WASHINGTON D.C.: The U.S. Commerce Department gas says new duties on imports from some major Chinese solar panel makers will be imposed, after they were found to be avoiding tariffs by completing their solar panels in Southeast Asian countries.
US President Joe Biden has set a goal to decarbonize the American power sector by 2035, which will require rapid deployment of new solar, wind, and other clean energy projects.
Units of BYD, Trina Solar, Longi Green Energy Technology, and Canadian Solar were circumventing existing tariffs on Chinese solar cells and panels that have been in place for a decade, the U.S. Commerce Department probe found.
Affected companies could, therefore, be subject to duties on their products made in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, which now account for some 80 percent of solar panel supplies in the U.S.
These companies will face the same duty rates the U.S. already assesses on their Chinese-made products, officials from the department said, noting that most of those rates are under 35 percent.
The announcement was welcomed by small U.S. solar panel maker Auxin Solar, which asked the department to investigate in February.
In a statement, Auxin Chief Executive Mamun Rashid said, "Commerce's investigations have largely validated and confirmed Auxin's allegations of Chinese cheating."
However, buyers of solar panels for both large utility projects and residential rooftops stressed that new tariffs would affect an already struggling market for accessing solar energy equipment.
in an emailed statement, Abigail Ross Hopper, president of solar trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said, "The only good news here is that Commerce did not target all imports from the subject countries," as quoted by Reuters.
"This is a mistake we will have to deal with for the next several years," she added.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the Commerce Department's new tariffs should take effect immediately.
"President Biden should be focused on revitalizing American industry, not continuing our dependence on slave-made goods in the name of arbitrary climate goals," he said.