Continued Tariffs On Module Imports to US On Agenda For Biden

While a court ruling might have dented some of the tariffs imposed on module imports, in this case Bifacial module imports to the US, the odds of Trump era tariffs continuing remain high for the foreseeable future. This is as much due to continuing tensions with China, the key target, than the need to allow domestic manufacturing time to muscle up before allowing imports.

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Now, the U.S. International Trade Commission has arrived at a unanimous vote on Wednesday that imported solar products remain a threat to domestic U.S. manufacturers. The same USITC is expected to make a formal recommendation on December 8 to the Biden administration on the case for, and need to continue or discontinue tariffs imposed in 2018 by the Trump administration. The President is not bound to follow its recommendations, and can take a contrarian call too if he wishes. A decision that will possibly be guided by his assessment of the impact on domestic jobs, among other factors.

Thus, as much  as the instinct is to reverse every Trump era move, this is another case where the Biden administration might find that market realities donot respect individual decisions. In June this year, following pressure to take action on its allegations against China on human rights abuses in Xinjiang province, the U.S. had barred imports of solar products  that had components manufactured in Xinjiang. Polysilicon, the critical base material, is manufactured in a big way in the province, effectively shutting out many Chinese majors from exporting to the US.

For the Biden administration, which has successfully put the focus back on clean energy, the choice is particularly tough as continuing the tariffs will impact costs for capacity additions in the US, after a strong 2020 and continuing show in 2021. It’s the classic developers versus domestic manufacturers conundrum, something readers in India will be only too aware of.

The rising prices of oil, that have followed its own decisions to make oil drilling and infra creation more difficult have already forced the President to tap into the Strategic reserves to tamp down on the prices, showing just how hard western leaders are finding it to walk the talk on cutting fossil fuel consumption and build clean energy options.

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