Bifacial exemption set to remain under new U.S. Section 201 tariffs, reports say
The Biden administration is reportedly considering exempting bifacial panels from the expanded Section 201 tariffs on solar imports, according to unconfirmed reports.
Reuters yesterday (January 27) quoted two sources familiar with the matter as saying the White House was preparing to extend S201 tariffs for four years, in line with recommendations made late last year by the United States International Trade Commission. United, but exempt bifacial panels from these tariffs when extended.
According to the report, the White House is also considering doubling the duty-free quota on solar cell imports from 2.5 GW to 5 GW per year.
Reuters quoted “administration officials” as saying that “no decision has yet been made, but trade protections are likely.”
The Biden administration had appealed against the reinstatement of a Section 201 tariff exemption for bifacial modules after it was imposed in November last year by the US Court of International Trade (CIT).
Reports that he is now considering an exemption for bifacial modules for another four years suggest something of a U-turn by the Biden administration.
Speaking on a ROTH Capital webinar today Rhone Resch, CEO of Advanced Energy Advisors and former CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the appeal was highly unlikely to be successful and the exemption was here to stay, adding that the tariff level of other solar systems produced should remain at 15%.
A spokesperson for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said PV technology that he would not comment on the reports until an official statement from the White House, but that the tariffs had hurt the country’s solar industry.
“There are other more efficient ways to build a sustainable and robust solar manufacturing supply chain, such as passing the clean energy provisions in the Build Back Better Act. We hope the administration will take these steps to expand American manufacturing while paving the way for clean and affordable solar energy,” SEIA said.
Implemented by the Trump administration in 2018, Section 201 tariffs have been highly controversial. Tariffs on solar imports were introduced at a rate of 30%, decreasing by five percentage points each year for four years. They are due to expire on February 6.
Proponents of the tariffs say they are crucial in helping the United States establish a domestic PV manufacturing base, while opponents say they have more widely cost thousands of jobs in the country’s solar industry by due to higher costs for developers and installers, resulting in fewer projects being completed.
In September last year, the World Trade Organization rejected China’s challenge to the tariffs, ruling that the measures did not break global trade rules.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recommended in December 2021 that President Joe Biden extend tariffs on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules for another four years.
In a report explaining its decision, the ITC said that although the domestic industry is making a “positive adjustment” to import competition, the safeguard measure “still remains necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury.”
Confirmation of the White House’s decision on tariffs is expected shortly.