Biden slams China with higher tariffs on solar cell, battery imports – Renewables Now

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US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced increases in tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 on USD 18 billion (EUR 16.7bn) of imports from China, including on solar cells, batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs).

In a press statement, the government says that the goal of today’s actions is to counter China’s unfair trade practices because of which the US sees “unacceptable risks” to its “supply chains and economic security.”

Aside from the aforementioned products, the President has also directed increases in tariffs across strategic sectors such as steel and aluminum, semiconductors, critical minerals, ship-to-shore cranes, and medical products.

When it comes to solar cells, whether or not assembled into panels, the tariff rate will rise from 25% to 50% in 2024. According to the US government, China is relying upon unfair practices to dominate more than 80%-90% of certain parts of the global solar supply chain and is undermining solar manufacturing investments outside of the country by flooding global markets with artificially cheap equipment.

Meanwhile, the tariff rates on lithium-ion EV batteries and battery parts are both set to go up from 7.5% to 25%, while the rate on lithium-ion non-EV batteries will make the same jump, but in 2026. That is when natural graphite and permanent magnets will also become the subject of a 25% tariff, the same rate some other critical minerals will get this year.

As per EVs, Chinese imports will suffer a tariff rate of 100% this year already, compared to the current rate of 25%.

Mike Carr, Executive Director of the Solar Energy Manufacturers for America (SEMA) Coalition, welcomed the announcement from the White House and added the following: “The Administration made the right decision to strengthen protections for solar components we seek to build in the U.S. While no one action can unwind the years of a concerted effort to dominate this industry, including in manufacturing equipment and heavily subsidized production by Chinese-headquartered firms in Southeast Asia, we are encouraged by this indication of the Biden administration’s commitment to use all the tools at their disposal in a targeted and strategic way. We are hopeful that next steps will shortly follow, including fixing the Inflation Reduction Act’s domestic content rules and trade enforcement, to level the playing field and ensure that American solar workers have a real chance at fair competition.”

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.926)

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