- US CIT has allowed bifacial solar panels to be exempted from Section 201 tariffs
- It has also lowered the tariffs on other solar products in the list to 15%, from 18%
- Roth analysts believe the current US administration may appeal against the decision and the tariffs may be extended
- On the other hand, A-SMACC has hinted it may refile the petition for anti-circumvention tariffs
There is good news for the US solar market as the US Court of International Trade (CIT) has upheld the exclusion of bifacial solar modules from Section 201 tariffs that were imposed by previous US President Donald Trump in 2018, and planned to be continued by the current administration.
For the record, bifacial tariffs were excluded by the Trump administration from the Section 201 tariffs, only to be included in the list in October 2019. An Invenergy petition brought them out of the tariff regime in November 2019. However, in April 2020, the US Trade Representative (USTR) included it once again in the list (see Bifacial Solar Loses Protection From Section 201 In US).
The current relief comes in response to a petition filed by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), NextEra Energy Inc., Invenergy Renewables LLC, and EDF Renewables, Inc. SEIA says the CIT order also reduces Section 201 tariff rate from 18% to 15%, after it was raised to 18% in Proclamation 10101, and that both these decisions will lead to refunds of the tariffs already collected under the proclamation.
While it must be a pleasant surprise for the US solar industry and comes at a time when it is dealing with high raw material and freight costs, not to miss the call for newer tariffs by an anonymous group of US solar manufacturers called A-SMACC, the happiness could be short-lived.
According to analysts at Roth Capital Partners, the US government will likely appeal against the CIT decision which would buy the industry time for about 2 months. Since bifacial panels are utility scale solar projects specific products, the residential sector still suffers as monofacial modules continue to pay 18% under Section 201.
Philip Shen of Roth sees strong probability for Section 201 tariffs being extended further.
In a related development from the US solar market, law firm Wiley representing the anonymous American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (A-SMACC) has said it may refile a petition, after the US Department of Commerce rejected its call to impose duties on Chinese products.
“It is unfortunate that we are being forced to choose between revealing our identities and exercising our trade remedy rights,” reads the statement from Wiley. “With that in mind, we are evaluating all options available to us under the trade remedy and other laws, including but not limited to refiling a petition satisfying the Commerce Department’s concerns.”
Roth’ Shen believes this means there could be potential for new cases ahead.
For the uninitiated, A-SMACC had petitioned to the Commerce Department to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese solar products being shipped into the US from locations in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. The department had turned down the request citing A-SMACC’s decision to not reveal individual members identities (see US Rejects A-SMACC’s Tariff Requests).