Trump Tariff On Solar Panel Import Could Trouble The U.S. Industry, Say Companies

The Trump tariffs would negatively impact the solar industry, says SunPower CEO.

A trade dispute with China is being attempted to be negotiated by the U.S. solar industry with China that includes an estimated $1.5 billion held by Washington even as U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration is al set to make an announcement on the import tariffs for new solar panels.

Collection of duties on solar panels that are imported from China have bene collected by the U.S. government since 2012. But the players in the American solar panel manufacturing industry are attempting to distribute the duty collected between the suppliers and manufactures both in the U.S. and China. If this is made possible, it would change the dynamics of the trade relations between the two countries who of late have been at logger heads with their different approaches to trade between the two nations.

Trump would be required to stop all existing tariffs on solar panels and not to impose new ones if that deal is to happen – which according to many is a long shot at best. In exchange, duties on imports of polysilicon, a key solar-panel ingredient, from the U.S. into China would be struck down. But there are multiple hindrances to make this happen. The primary would be get Trump convinced to take a conciliatory stance with respect to China

“This administration has a real opportunity to succeed where others failed as a result of your commitment to a re-balancing of trade relations,” Craig Cornelius, senior vice president of renewables at power generator NRG Energy Inc., said in December during a hearing with Trump’s trade representative.

Here were no comments made by the White House.

It is unlikely that any deal could be struck before the imposition of new tariffs which is on January 26 because many see that the time is very little for convince the Trump administration. There have been concerns raised by the U.S. solar industry that thousands of jobs would be put to risk and the industry would be crippled by the imposition of new tariffs. And as a short-term solution, there is lobbying going on to hold the tariff as low as possible.

“We maintain our position that a global settlement, following the general construct proposed last month by NRG’s Craig Cornelius, would be a welcome outcome to these cases,” Solar Energy Industries Association President Abigail Ross Hopper said.

It was around April last year that the notion of imposition of new tariff on import of solar panels into the U.S. had cropped up after Suniva Inc., a manufacturer of solar panels and a bankrupt company, filed a trade complaint alleging that a flood of panel imports were responsible for the its crippling condition. The case was joined the next month by SolarWorld Americas, a U.S. unit of a bankrupt German manufacturer.

SQN Capital Management is the chief creditor of Suniva. Centerbridge Partners LP are among the creditors of SolarWorld AG, the German company.

Recommendation for tariffs of up to 35% for solar panels that are imported was proposed in October by the U.S. International Trade Commission after a voting. However, the final say on the duration size and scope of the tariffs is the prerogative of the president.

(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)

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