Solar Companies Seek New U.S. Tariffs on Asian Imports – The New York Times

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Firms warn that China uses its neighbors to skirt existing levies, depressing prices and threatening U.S. investments.

A group of seven leading solar manufacturers filed trade complaints on Wednesday formally requesting that the Biden administration impose tariffs on solar products being exported from Southeast Asia into the United States.

The petitions were filed with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. They come amid growing alarm within the U.S. solar industry that a flood of cheap Chinese green energy technology exports are pushing down prices of solar panels and threatening efforts by the Biden administration to develop a domestic solar supply chain.

Chinese companies have been relocating production of solar products to neighboring countries to avoid existing tariffs, and U.S. manufacturers believe new trade measures are needed to protect their businesses. The complaints call for investigations into the trade practices of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. In the past year, the United States has imported $12.5 billion worth of solar products from those countries as prices of solar products have dropped by around 50 percent.

The trade complaints are focused on imported solar cells, the parts of solar panels that turn light into electricity.

The call for new tariffs comes as the Biden administration has been increasingly vocal in its complaints about China’s excess industrial capacity, warning that cheap Chinese exports of green energy technology and other kinds of products threaten to distort global supply chains. Last week, President Biden called his trade representative to more than triple some tariffs on steel and aluminum products from China, as part of a series of moves meant to help cushion American manufacturers from a surge of low-cost imports.

Tim Brightbill, a trade lawyer representing the companies, said that the U.S. solar industry was in a “ very precarious” position and that investments made through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that were meant to bolster American solar businesses were being threatened.

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