WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump on Saturday signed a proclamation outlining his support for the revocation of a tariff exclusion on certain imported double-sided solar panels and raising the planned tariff rate from 15% to 18% for 2021.
Trump said the U.S. domestic industry was starting to increase production and market share for some solar modules after it imposed tariffs on imports in January 2018, but further measures were needed.
Bifacial panels should not be excluded from tariffs, Trump said, adding that this had limited overall measures and would likely continue to hamper their effectiveness.
“In light of the increase in imports of competing products, such an exclusion results in… there is a need to revoke (the) exclusion and apply the safeguard tariff to bifacial panels,” Trump said in a proclamation issued by the White House.
“To achieve the full corrective effect envisioned for this action, it is necessary to adjust the duty rate of the safeguard tariff for the fourth year of the safeguard measure to 18 percent. “
Developers of solar farms, including Chicago-based Invenergy Renewables LLC, had filed a lawsuit to maintain the exemption initially granted by the Trump administration, but it was later rescinded after officials realized it resulted in an increase in imports.
In January 2018, the United States imposed tariffs on imports of solar panels starting at 30% and is expected to drop to 15% by 2021. Trump’s announcement would raise the rate to 18% next year.
China and other producers dominate the market for bifacial technology, a small but growing part of the solar panel market that costs more but produces more power than traditional panels.
Consumers and importers argued that higher tariffs would increase their costs and were unnecessary because domestic producers do not manufacture the panels and are not prejudiced by imports.
Domestic producers say solar farm developers could use monofacial or bifacial panels and higher tariffs would protect domestic production.