Solar wars: China cheating to edge out American competitors.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 6, 2024
First Solar: China is cheating to squeeze American manufacturers.jpegOrginal image from:

China’s unfair trade practices in the global solar manufacturing industry are putting American manufacturers at risk, according to members of Congress and companies like First Solar. The allegations suggest that China is sidestepping tariffs by using other Southeast Asian countries to import solar products into the U.S. at below-market prices, aiming to push American companies out of the market. This practice, if left unchecked, could lead to China dominating the solar energy industry, leaving the U.S. dependent on its rival in the future.

The Unfair Advantage: China’s Tactics

First Solar, with a significant solar manufacturing presence in Perrysburg, Ohio, warns that China is following a familiar playbook to dominate the solar module manufacturing sector. A group of U.S. solar manufacturers, including First Solar, has petitioned the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate unfair trade practices from factories in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries account for more than 80% of U.S. panel imports.

The Call for Fair Competition

First Solar’s executive vice president and general counsel, Jason Dymbort, emphasizes the need for fair competition on a level playing field. The Biden Administration had previously suspended tariffs on Chinese solar products to reduce prices and meet climate goals in the U.S. However, these tariffs were reinstated after a two-year pause, as prices continued to drop due to China’s dominance in the global supply chain.

The Push for U.S. Manufacturing

The Solar Energy Industries Association predicts a significant increase in solar installations in the U.S. over the coming years. U.S. manufacturers and lawmakers are advocating for fair competition to ensure that American companies can meet the rising demand for solar energy. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown are leading the charge to investigate Chinese companies and address trade violations to protect American jobs and innovation.

Protecting American Interests: The Way Forward

As China continues to exploit loopholes in the global solar market, American manufacturers like First Solar are pushing for regulatory action to level the playing field. By addressing unfair trade practices and ensuring compliance with trade laws, the U.S. can safeguard its domestic solar manufacturing industry and promote innovation at home. The fight against economic warfare from China requires a united front from lawmakers, industry leaders, and concerned citizens to protect American interests and secure a sustainable future.

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