US Lawmakers Vote to Restore Tariff on Solar Imports from Southeast Asia

A committee of the United States House of Representatives has voted to reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from four Southeast Asian countries, overturning the Biden administration’s decision to allow more unfair solar imports from China into the U.S.

The Ways and Means Committee said that China was clearly bypassing American tariffs meant to ensure fair competition for American workers by exporting solar products through Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It noted that the Department of Commerce had also found that Chinese solar manufacturers were avoiding antidumping and countervailing duties by assembling solar cells and modules in Southeast Asia before shipping them to the U.S.

“For years, China has been evading American tariffs on solar products by sending them to the United States through Southeast Asia, harming American energy jobs and leaving our supply chain under the control of the Chinese Communist Party,” the committee said, calling the decision to suspend tariffs on solar imports from these countries for two years as misguided.

In January, seven months after President Biden announced a two-year duty exemption on solar modules and cells imported from the four Southeast Asian countries, a bipartisan group of Congressmen had introduced a resolution of disapproval, demanding a reversal of the suspension of solar import tariffs.

The Congressional Review Act Resolution on Solar Tariffs stops the Commerce Department from implementing the Final Rule, giving effect to the proclamation suspending the import tariffs and preventing the issuance of any similar rule.

Last December, the Department of Commerce said that solar cells made in any of the four countries under investigation, even with wafers from China, that are then sent to another country and made into modules or other products, would not count as exports from these four countries.

Industry groups in the U.S. had opposed the investigation arguing that the pipeline projects in the country would be negatively affected, as domestic manufacturing capacity was not able to meet the increasing demand.

The ban on imports of Chinese-made panels has benefited Indian manufacturers. India’s solar module exports witnessed an unprecedented 321% hike year-over-year, totaling $561.6 million, driven by U.S. demand, accounting for over 95% of the shipments.