The Biden administration announced May 16 higher tariffs, additional import restrictions, and other measures in an effort to further strengthen domestic manufacturing of solar energy-producing products. The White House said these actions are designed to respond to China’s “anticompetitive subsidization and trade practices” in this area, which include “dumping artificially cheap modules and components onto the global market and circumventing trade enforcement measures in an attempt to put other countries’ manufacturers out of business.”

Bifacial panels. The administration plans to imminently remove an exclusion for bifacial solar panels from the Section 201 safeguard, which consists of (1) a tariff-rate quota on crystalline silicon photovoltaic 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, and (2) a higher duty rate on CSPV modules. Importers with pre-existing contracts for bifacial solar panels to be delivered within 90 days of the removal of the exclusion will be able to certify those contracts to continue using the exclusion for that period.

Tariff-rate quotas. Under the Section 201 TRQ, up to 5.0 gigawatts’ worth of solar cells may be entered at the in-quota duty rate per year. The Biden administration will closely monitor the level of imported solar cells used to manufacture panels in the U.S. and will work to raise this in-quota amount by 7.5 gigawatts if imports approach the current quota level.

AD/CV duties. A 24-month “bridge” facilitating certain imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam duty-free will end as scheduled on June 6 and producers in Southeast Asia found to be circumventing the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on solar cells and modules from China will be subject to those duties. Panels imported under this “bridge” must be installed within 180 days to prevent stockpiling and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said it will vigorously enforce this provision, including by requiring importers to provide a certification of solar module utilization with detailed information about the modules being deployed.

Import surges. Imports of solar modules from Southeast Asia, where Chinese companies have built new production capacity (apparently to avoid AD/CV duty orders on goods made in China) have surged over the last year. The departments of Energy and Commerce will closely monitor import patterns to ensure the U.S. market does not become oversaturated and will explore all available measures to take action against unfair practices.

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