Trade panel recommends Trump impose tariffs on solar power technology
A federal trade panel is recommending that President Trump impose tariffs as high as 35 percent on solar power technology.
The International Trade Commission’s (ITC) four members outlined their preferences at a Tuesday hearing. The panel will send them next month to Trump, who has wide discretion to accept the recommendations, reject them or take other action.
The recommendations follow the ITC’s unanimous ruling last month that foreign imports of solar power cells and modules injure domestic manufacturers of the technology to an extent that warrants penalties for imports, under a process outlined in Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974.
The case was brought by Suniva Inc., a bankrupt solar panel maker, and joined by the United States operations of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld.
Each of the members had his or her own recommendations for a mix of tariffs on a percentage of the products’ values and trade quotas on solar cells — the individual mechanisms that convert the Sun’s light into electricity — and solar modules — sets of cells.
Rhonda Schmidtlein, the panel’s chairwoman and a Democratic nominee of President Barack Obama, asked for tariffs of up to 35 percent on modules and 30 percent on cells.
Those rates would only kick in after importers exceed an annual import quota. The quota would increase as time goes on, and the tariffs would decrease.
Commissioner Meredith Broadbent, a Republican Obama nominee, recommended an import limit of 8.9 megawatts a year, which would increase annually. The federal government would sell import licenses under her plan.
Commissioner Irving Williamson, a Democrat nominated by President George W. Bush, was joined in his recommendations by David Johanson, the vice chairman and a Republican Obama appointee.
They want a tariff of 30 percent on solar cells and modules, which would kick in after 1 gigawatt of imports in a year and decrease each year.