US Moves Closer to Tariffs on Asia Solar Panels With Vote

The US government moved closer to imposing new tariffs on solar cells and panels from Southeast Asia after an agency’s initial determination that American manufacturers are being harmed by cheap imports from the region.

The 4-0 vote by the US International Trade Commission on Friday marks the first of four major steps in the review of petitions by manufacturers targeting solar cells and modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. They allege the equipment is being sold at prices below the cost of production and unfairly benefits from tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, including from Chinese government entities.

In its preliminary determination, the commission found there is a reasonable indication of material injury — or a threat of it — to domestic solar manufacturers. The vote clears the way for the Commerce Department to continue its investigation into whether the foreign producers are in fact dumping their solar equipment and getting illegal government support. And it sets the stage for the collection of preliminary duties as soon as July.

The case raises the prospect of more uncertainty for US renewable power developers as well as the promise of stiffer trade protections that could bolster some domestic manufacturers. The Inflation Reduction Act delivered tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for new solar factories, but the US still depends on imports from Asia for most of its panel and cell supply.

The companies pursuing the claims as part of the American Alliance for Solar Manufacturing Trade Committee include Convalt Energy Inc., First Solar Inc., Hanwha Qcells USA Inc., and Mission Solar Energy LLC.