President Issues Proclamation on Positive Adjustments to Import Competition for Select PV Cells

The President has determined the safeguard action on imports crystalline silicon PV (CSPV), cells, is necessary to prevent or rectify the serious injury to domestic industry. He also believes that domestic industry is making a positive adjustment in the face of increased import competition.

Proclamation 9693 provided for the extension of the safeguard measure. It included continuation of the tariff-rate quote (TRQ), which applies to imports of solar cells that are not fully or partially assembled into other products. The within-quota quantities for each year are fixed at 5 GW. Annual reductions in the rates for duty apply to goods entering more than those quantities in the fifth to eighth years. This paragraph continues the increase in module import duties for an additional four years. Annual reductions are made in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth years. Bifacial panels are exempt from the extension.

“While we are disappointed with the decision to extend Section 201 tariffs on imported solar cells and panels, we are grateful to the Biden administration for clearly considering the range of issues affected by this decision,” states Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Administration officials arrived at a balanced solution in upholding the exclusion for bifacial panels and increasing the tariff rate quota for cells.

“SEIA has been fighting for more than three years to preserve the exclusion for bifacial panels, a product not available in the United States at scale,” Hopper adds. “Today’s decision recognizes the importance of this innovative technology in helping to improve power output and lower costs in the utility-scale segment. It is a significant step forward in America’s pursuit of clean energy and in tackling climate change. We also support the administration’s decision to increase the tariff rate quota for solar cell imports. This will be a benefit to both domestic module manufacturers as well as their customers in the residential, commercial, and industrial segments.

“As the nation’s leading voice for clean energy project development, we applaud President Biden’s decision today on a crucial issue facing the solar industry: Section 201 tariffs,” comments American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal. “The decision to extend the 201 exclusion for bifacial modules is a win for jobs and a win for the President’s climate agenda. The President’s decision to extend the tariffs, applicable to monofacial solar cells and modules, gives the domestic solar manufacturing industry four more years to adjust to import competition as intended by the statute.”  

As part of the tariff’s history, in January 2018, the President issued Proclamation 9693, imposing a safeguard measure for a period of four years that included both a TRQ on imports of certain CSPV cells, not partially or fully assembled into other products, provided for in subheading. The tariff included a rise in duties (safeguard tarif) for imports exceeding the TRQ of CSPV cells and all other CSPV products. Proclamation 9693 exempted certain designated beneficiary countries from the Generalized System of Preferences’ application of the safeguard measure.

Effective June 13, 2019, USTR removed bifacial-solar panels that absorb light and produce electricity on one side and that only contain bifacial cells that absorb light on both sides (bifacial modular).

Proclamation 10101 of the President was issued on October 10, 2020. This declared that the domestic sector has made a positive adjustment to import competitors as demonstrated by the increase in module production capacity, market share, and production.  It also lifted the exclusion of bifacial modular production from the application of the safeguard measures on the grounds that it had impaired and was likely continue to impair its effectiveness. It also adjusted the safeguard tariff for the fourth-year of the safeguard measure from 15% à 18%, on the grounds that the exclusion bifacial module from the application of the safeguard tarifs had compromised the remedial effectiveness and potential to achieve the full remedial effect of the 4-year proclamation 9693.

The United States Court of International Trade ruled in Solar Energy Industries Association, et al. United States v. United States, (SEIA), held that the President acted beyond his statutory authority when issuing Proclamation 10101 and stopped the government from enforcing this proclamation.  This injunction had the following effect: the safeguard tariffs were reinstituted and the fourth-year safeguard rate was lowered to 15%.  The Government filed a notice of appeal of SEIA before the United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit on January 14, 2022.

You can read the entire Proclamation here.