U.S President Donald Trump wants to up punitive tariffs on imported solar panels and cells next year – blaming bifacial modules.
Just a brief recap:
In January 2018, the President gave the green light for the application of punitive tariffs on many imported solar panels and cells. While referred to as the “Trump Solar Tax,” or “Trump Solar Tariffs“; the official terms are the Solar Products Safeguard Measure or Section 201 tariff.
The tariffs kicked off at 30% and were to gradually taper off to 15% over four years.
In June last year, the U.S. Trade Representative announced bifacial solar panels would be exempt from the tariff. Bifacial solar panels absorb light and generate electricity from each side of the module.
But in October 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative said it had re-evaluated the exclusion and determined it would undermine the objectives of the safeguard measure. The withdrawal of the exclusion for bifacial solar panels was to apply as of October 28, 2019. However, various subsequent court rulings blocked the move.
Trump: Cancel Exemption, Lift Tariff Rate
In a Trump proclamation published on Saturday local time, the President states:
“(a) that the exclusion of bifacial panels from application of the safeguard tariff has impaired and is likely to continue to impair the effectiveness of the action I proclaimed in Proclamation 9693 in light of the increased imports of competing products such exclusion entails, and that it is necessary to revoke that exclusion and to apply the safeguard tariff to bifacial panels;”
Furthermore, President Trump states given the impact of the exemption on his 4-year action and in order to “achieve the full remedial effect” envisaged for that action, it was necessary for the duty rate of the safeguard tariff for the fourth year of the measure to be lifted from 15 to 18 percent.
The full wording of the proclamation can be found here.
Industry bodies such as the USA’s Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are yet to comment on the proclamation. Late last year SEIA commented that the introduction of tariffs on imported solar panels and cells had resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new private sector investment.
President Trump has been keeping busy since his return to the White House after being treated at Walter Reed Hospital for COVID-19, where he was administered a cocktail of drugs including dexamethasone – a pretty powerful steroid. Among its potential side effects are psychosis, delirium and mania.
Whether the President was experiencing any side effects when signing off on the proclamation, it could be hard to tell.