Solar Panel Executive, Trade Association Condemns Trump's 30-percent Tariff

January 23, 2018 |

Making good on threats to impose tariffs on countries he believes are conducting unfair trade practices, President Donald J. Trump announced a 30-percent tariff on solar panels. 

The 30-percent tariff on solar panels was sought by Suniva and SolarWorld. While the two companies manufacture panels, much of the solar industry opposes the move saying it could crimp the overall sector and make installation of residential solar units substantially more expensive for homeowners.

“We are very disappointed by President Donald Trump’s failure today to protect American workers and our country’s growing solar economy," Michael Maulick, president and CEO of Mill Valley, California-based SunLink Corporation said. "His decision today to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules will cause harm to the solar industry, impacting thousands of American jobs and stifling clean energy innovation."

Maulick argues the tariff will impede further progress of the solar industry, which is increasingly supplying power to consumers. 

Artificial price hikes through tariffs only work to impede economic progress when the solar industry has worked for years to make solar affordable through innovation, a global supply chain, production scale growth and private investments," he added.

In a statement issued yesterday, The Solar Energy Industries Association said the tariff would be devastating for the industry. The group estimates the move will do nothing to increase manufacturing in the U.S. and lead to the loss of 23,000 jobs in the industry.

“While tariffs in this case will not create adequate cell or module manufacturing to meet U.S. demand, or keep foreign-owned Suniva and SolarWorld afloat, they will create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s President and CEO said.

Defenders of the tariff note that the U.S. industry has gone from about 30 manufactures to just three. Additionally, the Chinese government has heavily subsidized the industry and has increased their market share in the U.S from about 7-percent in 2005 to 61-percent in 2012. 

"The President’s action makes clear again that the Trump Administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in making the announcement.  

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