Biden to suspend new solar tariffs as White House aims to boost adoption

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is expected to announce a two-year pause Monday in imposing new tariffs on the solar industry, following an outcry from importers who complained that the levies threaten wider adoption of the solar industry. solar energy in the United States.

The move is a victory for domestic solar installers, who said the tariffs would jeopardize the Biden administration’s goal of dramatically reducing carbon emissions by the end of the decade. But that will go against the wishes of U.S. manufacturers and unions, which have pushed the administration to erect tougher barriers on cheap imports to help revive the domestic solar industry.

To counter those complaints, the administration also plans to announce policies to help support the domestic solar industry, according to people familiar with the plans, who declined to speak publicly ahead of the official White House announcement. . Two people familiar with the talks said those efforts would involve using the powers of the Defense Production Act, which gives the president broad powers and funding to direct the activities of private companies.

The Commerce Department was considering imposing the tariffs as part of a trade case that accused Chinese solar companies of trying to circumvent existing taxes by moving their operations out of China and into other countries. In recent years, major Chinese solar producers have set up major operations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

If the Commerce Department had determined that the factories were created to circumvent US tariffs, the administration could have retroactively imposed tariffs on their shipments to the United States.

U.S. solar companies said the prospect of higher, retroactive tariffs was already having a chilling effect on imports. Groups such as the Solar Energy Industries Association lobbied the White House against the tariffs and welcomed news on Monday that the administration would suspend any new levies.

“Today’s actions protect existing solar jobs, will lead to increased employment in the solar industry, and foster a strong solar manufacturing base here at home,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, in an emailed statement.

“During the two-year tariff suspension window,” she said, “the U.S. solar industry can resume rapid deployment while the Defense Production Act helps expand U.S. solar manufacturing.”

Jim Tankerley contributed report.

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