SolarWorld praises US Department of Defense for bolstering Buy American Act

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U.S. solar manufacturer SolarWorld has commended a White House and Department of Defense decision to issue a ruling barring the purchase of China-assembled solar panels to be used for U.S. military bases.

Published last week in the Federal Register, the new ruling could help restore the intended purpose of the Buy American Act, which was created to help support domestic manufacturing, and offers renewed hope that the U.S.’s own solar manufacturing industry can be re-energized.

Under the ruling's stipulations, the Department of Defense can only purchase solar panels assembled either in the U.S. or from countries where there exists a free trade agreement. Non-trade-agreement economies, such as China and Malaysia, are thus prohibited.

As leader of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing – which advocates sustainable and robust domestic manufacturing in solar products and a free trade based on the implementation of longstanding international trade laws – SolarWorld has understandably applauded this decision.

"With this new rule, the Obama administration and Department of Defense have taken an important step in favour of U.S. manufacturing, the nation’s energy security and the countless American workers who depend on both," said SolarWorld Industries America Inc. president, Mukesh Dulani. "We commend them for clarifying the Buy American Act rules in this important high-tech sector of the economy, and with its help, we look forward to working to rebuild domestic solar manufacturing."

Enacted in 1933, the Buy American Act requires government-backed offices to favour U.S.-produced goods. Previously, Chinese and other non-free-trade nations have been able to exploit a loophole in how the Act was interpreted by the U.S. government. The new ruling attempts to reinforce the reasoning behind the Act, and seeks to close all legal loopholes.

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