WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, announced she is leading her Senate colleagues in a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce urging Secretary Gina Raimondo to carefully assess the validity of a series of anonymously filed petitions to expand job-killing tariffs on solar panels and cells imported from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. The letter was signed by Senators Carper, King, Bennet, Heinrich, Whitehouse, Feinstein, Reed, Schatz, Hirono, Kaine, and Hickenlooper.

“We are writing to express our concerns with recent, anonymous petitions alleging illegal trade activity filed with the Department of Commerce that would have a devastating impact on the U.S. solar industry and American solar jobs,” wrote the Senators. “Given the significant negative effects of imposing new tariffs on imported solar products, we implore you to carefully assess the validity of these petitions, ensure such claims go through the proper USITC process, and determine whether it is appropriate to initiate an investigation into this matter.”

“Although we are currently working to develop greater domestic solar manufacturing capacity, currently, U.S. demand for panels and cells far exceeds domestic production capacity,” the Senators’ letter continued. “In the first half of 2021, imports from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for 80% percent of all CSPV imports and 59% of total U.S. panel supply. New tariffs on solar products from these three countries would stall many ongoing and planned U.S. solar projects, negatively impacting every segment of the U.S. solar industry and resulting in significant job losses.”

BACKGROUND: In December, Senator Rosen joined a letter to the Biden-Harris transition team urging the Administration to repeal tariffs – first implemented by the Trump Administration – on imported silicon solar cells and panels. As a result of the Trump tariffs, domestic prices of solar panels are now among the highest in the world and significantly above the global average, which has severely impacted domestic solar panel manufacturing and job creation.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Secretary Raimondo:

We are writing to express our concerns with recent, anonymous petitions alleging illegal trade activity filed with the Department of Commerce (Commerce) that would have a devastating impact on the U.S. solar industry and American solar jobs. Given the significant negative effects of imposing new tariffs on imported solar products, we implore you to carefully assess the validity of these petitions, ensure such claims go through the proper USITC process, and determine whether it is appropriate to initiate an investigation into this matter.

On August 16, 2021, an anonymous group filed three circumvention petitions to expand the scope of existing antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders to include almost all crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) solar panels and cells imported from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Expanded tariffs on products from these countries would threaten thousands of American solar jobs and seriously impede our ability to meet the nation’s climate goals.

Commerce has broad discretion regarding circumvention petitions, and we believe this is particularly true when the Department is faced with serious procedural concerns. We ask that you carefully consider whether the anonymous petitions on solar imports represent an effort to misuse the circumvention statute to avoid a full and fair inquiry into whether CSPV cell and panel imports from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand are actually subsidized or sold to the United States at less than fair value. As you know, the AD/CVD process requires petitioners to establish harm from imports during a full U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) investigation and public hearing before the USITC Commissioners. This robust process affords interested parties the opportunity to contest petitioners’ claims.

Although we are currently working to develop greater domestic solar manufacturing capacity, currently, U.S. demand for panels and cells far exceeds domestic production capacity. In the first half of 2021, imports from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for 80% percent of all CSPV imports and 59% of total U.S. panel supply. New tariffs on solar products from these three countries would stall many ongoing and planned U.S. solar projects, negatively impacting every segment of the U.S. solar industry and resulting in significant job losses. In particular, the tariffs would have direct impact on the almost ninety percent of solar jobs in the United States that are not in the manufacturing sector. The President’s ambitious climate and solar deployment goals also would be put at serious risk given the Administration’s focus on solar as a principal solution to addressing climate change.

Given the likely impact of these proposed tariffs and the procedural questions identified above, we ask that you give careful consideration to the validity of these petitions and whether it is appropriate to initiate a formal investigation in this matter. 

Thank you in advance for your attention to these important issues. 

Sincerely,

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