With the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) slated to determine the fate of the Section 201 solar trade case this week, co-petitioners SolarWorld Americas and Suniva have garnered public support from two more groups: the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA).
The two groups have sent letters to the ITC urging the agency to agree with the co-petitioners’ claims and vote on Friday that global overcapacity has produced a surge of imports into the U.S. that has seriously injured the domestic solar manufacturing industry. The letters follow a similar call to action from the Steel Manufacturers Association earlier this month.
The AAM is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan partnership formed in 2007 by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers,” according to its website. In its letter to the ITC, the AAM says, “As a domestic labor-business partnership, our members and advocates are keenly aware of the impact of exceedingly high levels of imports on domestic production and jobs. In the specific case of solar cells and panels, it would be devastating to lose a productive domestic manufacturing capacity just as solar installations are scaling up in the United States.”
The letter continues, “The growing U.S. solar installation market would be well served by vibrant domestic competition rather than an overreliance on imports from China. Allowing Chinese imports to destroy the remaining market share for domestic solar cells and panel manufacturing would ultimately disrupt the possibility of a truly competitive market and make it more subject to the vicious cycles of overcapacity and overconsumption that plague China’s government-driven economy.”
“A rules-based trading system is only as good as its rules and willingness to enact remedies where warranted,” the letter says.
Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas, says, “We greatly appreciate the strong support of the Alliance for American Manufacturing on this critically important case. It is time for us to come together as an industry to rebuild America’s solar manufacturing base, to ensure that it remains a leader for future generations.”
Meanwhile, the CPA is “a nonprofit organization representing the interests of 4.1 million households through our agricultural, manufacturing and labor members,” according to its website. The organization adds it is “working for a new and positive U.S. trade policy that delivers prosperity and security to America, its citizens, farms, factories and working people.”
In its letter to the ITC, the CPA says its members “know all too well the severe impact that destructive import surges can have on domestic manufacturers, their workers and economic growth. Global overcapacity is a major challenge across the world as some countries engage in strategies to overproduce, under-consume and excessively rely upon deficit country consumers (such as the U.S.) for their economic growth.”
“Thousands of workers have lost good-paying U.S. jobs as a result,” the letter continues. “That these severe effects occurred during a period of booming U.S. demand, and despite two successful solar trade cases, is all the more troubling.”
Although co-petitioners SolarWorld and Suniva have gained support from the aforementioned groups, as well as a few U.S. solar companies and legislators, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has led a massive fight with its members and other stakeholders against the Section 201 trade case.
In August, parties from all sides of the argument presented their testimony to the ITC at a hearing in Washington, D.C. On Friday, four commissioners of the ITC are scheduled to vote on whether imports have caused, or threatened to cause, serious injury to the domestic industry. If at least two vote affirmatively, the ITC will proceed to the remedy phase of the investigation. If, however, there is a majority vote against the petition, the case will not move forward.