In an attempt to be more aggressive in his approach toward China and protect U.S. manufacturers, Trump recently imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. The decision will have a major impact on the solar industry as it gets about 80% off its products from imports.
Although the tariffs are targeted at Chinese imports, they do apply to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules as many Chinese manufacturers operate in other countries.
The two bankrupt companies vying for the the tariffs, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, claim that it will increase manufacturing and add thousands of U.S. jobs.
The decision was announced on Monday, in conjunction with the announcement of the newly imposed tariffs on imported washers, by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who defended Trump’s decision saying his administration “will always defend American workers.”
SolarWorld Americas originally sought a 50% tariff, and although they are grateful, they wonder if 30% will be high enough. Suniva, on the other hand, cheered the decision.
The rest of the solar industry is not so happy with the newly imposed tariffs.
The move will likely increase prices, and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (group that represents manufacturers, installers, and sellers) it is projected to kill over 20k solar-related jobs.
The group’s president, Abigail Ross Hopper, addressed Trump’s decision in this statement, ““While tariffs in this case will not create adequate cell or module manufacturing to meet U.S. demand, or keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat, they will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs.”
Clark Packard, a trade policy counsel for R Street Institute considers it a loss for free trade saying, “More good-paying jobs will be jeopardized by today’s decision than could possibly be saved by bailing out the bankrupt companies that petitioned for protection. Today's decision also will jeopardize the environment by making clean energy sources less affordable."
One could worry that Trump had some sort of financial stake in the two failing companies seeking the tariffs, but it is unlikely since he has so little regard for the environment or furthering the clean energy industry.
Continue reading about the solar tariffs, "President Trump Slaps Tariffs on Solar Panels in Major Blow to Renewable Energy" written by Brian Eckhouse, Ari Natter and Christopher Martin for Time and published on January 22, 2018.