Tariff Hike, Minimum Prices Sought on Imported Solar Cells and Modules
Up to eight years of higher tariffs and minimum prices on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from all countries could result from a new global safeguard petition filed April 26. These products are the principal elements of solar photovoltaic power generation systems and are most commonly used in solar panels.
The petition was filed with the International Trade Commission under section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act, which requires the ITC to determine whether an article is being imported in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause or threat of serious injury to a U.S. industry. Section 201 investigations do not require a finding of an unfair trade practice such as under the antidumping and countervailing duty laws.
The ITC now has 120 days to make a decision, 150 if the investigation is deemed extraordinarily complicated. If the ITC’s determination is affirmative it will recommend relief to the president within 180 days after the petition is filed. In this case the petitioner is not alleging the existence of critical circumstances or requesting provisional relief but is urging the ITC to conduct its investigation as quickly as possible.
Remedies may include tariff increases, quotas, tariff-rate quotas, trade adjustment assistance, or any combination thereof as well as any other action authorized under the law that is deemed likely to facilitate positive adjustment to import competition. In this case the petitioner is seeking the following.
- an additional tariff starting at $0.40/watt per CSPV cell and falling incrementally to $0.33/watt in year four
- a minimum price starting at $0.78/watt per module and falling incrementally to $0.68/watt in year four
- a new economic investment development program funded with the safeguard tariffs
- an equitable distribution of AD and CV duties collected in two existing AD/CV cases
- bilateral and multilateral negotiations to reduce global excess capacity
Some of these measures would likely be in violation of U.S. obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization.
Any relief proposed by the ITC is merely advisory; it is up to the president to make the final decision on whether to provide relief as well as its form, amount, and duration. The relief may initially be imposed for up to four years and extended to no more than eight.