Joe Biden Wants to Increase Import Tariffs on Solar Energy to Protect the US Industry - Latest Global News

Joe Biden Wants to Increase Import Tariffs on Solar Energy to Protect the US Industry

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Joe Biden is expected to impose tariffs on double-sided solar panel imports as the president looks to protect U.S. clean energy manufacturers and create jobs ahead of the November election.

U.S. officials said the move would immediately end an exemption from Trump-era tariffs on imports of a type of module unit commonly used in large solar projects, one of the fastest-growing forms of clean energy in the country. A tariff rate of 14.25 percent now applies to them.

The higher levy represents the latest protectionist move by the president as he competes with Republican rival Donald Trump to woo blue-collar voters in core U.S. manufacturing regions with less than six months left until the election.

On Tuesday, Biden sharply increased tariffs on Chinese imports, including electric vehicles and solar panels, ratcheting up trade tensions with Beijing and putting trade policy at the center of the campaign.

U.S. officials have warned that China is producing more goods than its own market can absorb, sparking fears that Beijing could use cheap exports to undercut producers in other countries.

Ali Zaidi, Biden’s climate adviser, said the U.S. solar investment boom was threatened by “unfair and non-market practices abroad.”

“Chinese solar module overcapacity, now estimated to be double global demand, threatens to undermine module production and solar supply chains around the world,” Zaidi said.

The Biden administration’s announcement comes as U.S. imports of cheap solar modules and cells, mostly from Southeast Asia, have surged to record highs. Overproduction of solar modules from China has led to a collapse in global module prices and jeopardized US production plans.

According to BloombergNEF, the U.S. imported 55 gigawatts of modules and 3.8 GW of solar cells in 2023, with more than three-quarters of cell imports coming from Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam.

In addition to the new tariff for double-sided panels, the US is also providing some relief for domestic developers who still rely on imported cells – the units that make up panels – by increasing the amount that can be imported without duties from 5 Increase GW to 12 GW.

While some companies have announced their intention to open solar cell factories since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act – with the aim of, among other things, boosting the domestic clean energy industry – the US has no production capacity in operation.

The relief applies to cells imported from Asian countries, except for China, whose cell exports to the U.S. will face a 50 percent tariff under the new rule announced Tuesday.

“We know that the process of onshoring, friendshoring and frankly just diversifying supply chains cannot be implemented overnight,” Zaidi said.

Increasing the quota would ensure solar panels would be available to U.S. manufacturers and would support the expansion of U.S. solar production, he added.

US manufacturers such as First Solar and Heliene had asked the US International Trade Commission to remove the tariff exemption for double-sided modules.

But the cell quota increase could anger major U.S. manufacturers that make their own cells, including First Solar and Qcells, which have sought anti-dumping duties on Southeast Asian solar cells.

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