President Trump issued Oct. 10 a proclamation that (1) withdraws the exclusion of bifacial solar panels from a safeguard tariff on solar products and (2) increases from 15 percent to 18 percent the additional duty on goods subject to the safeguard’s tariff-rate quota in 2021. The proclamation also raises the possibility that the safeguard could be extended beyond its current February 2022 deadline.
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The Section 201 safeguard on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and other CSPV products containing these cells consists of (1) a tariff-rate quota on CSPV cells not partially or fully assembled into other products, with an unchanged duty rate for the in-quota quantity and a higher duty rate for over-quota articles that declines each year, and (2) a higher duty rate on other CSPV products.
In June 2019 USTR excluded from this safeguard bifacial solar panels that absorb light and generate electricity on each side of the panel and that consist of only bifacial solar cells that absorb light and generate electricity on each side of the cells. However, this exclusion was withdrawn in October 2019 after USTR received information demonstrating that global production of bifacial solar panels is increasing, that the exclusion would likely result in significant increases in imports of these goods, and that such imports likely would compete with domestically produced monofacial and bifacial CSPV products in the U.S. market.
The proclamation therefore revokes this exclusion and applies the safeguard tariff to bifacial panels. This change will take effect Oct. 25.
In addition, “to achieve the full remedial effect envisaged” for the safeguard, the proclamation increases from 15 percent to 18 percent the tariff rate on over-quota products that will be effective during the fourth year of the safeguard, which will run from Feb. 7, 2021, through Feb. 6, 2022.