Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives are taking action to repeal a waiver made by President Joe Biden on solar import tariffs from Southeast Asia. The resolution was introduced through the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the power to repeal executive decisions if a simple majority is reached within 60 days.
Congressman Dan Kildee, a key figure in the effort, says the resolution is meant to support and strengthen US solar manufacturing and reduce the country’s dependence on China. “We cannot tolerate foreign solar manufacturers breaking trade laws, especially when it comes at the cost of American workers and businesses,” he stated.
In June 2022, President Biden declared a two-year waiver of anti-dumping and countervailing duty tariffs on solar imports while the Department of Commerce was investigating claims that Chinese companies were evading the tariffs by constructing and shipping products from Southeast Asia. Last December, Commerce found that companies in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Vietnam were in fact bypassing the tariffs, with its final ruling scheduled for May 1, 2023.
The president’s waiver was intended as a temporary “bridge” for the US solar industry to adapt to the ongoing investigation, which was causing major supply chain backlogs. About 80% of US solar modules come from the four Southeast Asian countries under investigation, and US solar developers have criticized the tariffs, saying they generate uncertainty and hinder the government’s clean energy goals.
As a result of the investigation, solar deployment forecasts in the US have been reduced due to a shortage of available modules. Michael Stuomo, CEO of the bipartisan non-profit Coalition for a Prosperous America, says it’s unacceptable for the Biden administration to undermine domestic production efforts, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, by giving Chinese manufacturers a free pass to violate US trade laws.
Research firm Wood Mackenzie also published findings that the US would have trouble meeting its solar demands through domestic manufacturing alone, and even if the AD/CVD tariffs and domestic manufacturing incentives from the IRA were applied, the timeline for establishing a domestic supply chain would be too tight to meet deployment needs and achieve clean energy targets.
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