Taiwan next country to file WTO complaint over US solar tariffs

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The filing was submitted on January 29, just days after U.S. President Trump announced that safeguard tariffs would be applied to solar module and cell manufacturers for the next five years, starting at 30% and ending at 15% in Year 4.

Following hot on the heels of Korea, which has also filed with the WTO, Taiwan is the latest country to call for a consultation “as soon as possible” with the U.S. over its decision.

“Having a substantial interest as an exporter in this case, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu requests consultations with United States under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards with a view to, inter alia, exchanging views on the proposed measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards,” read the filing.

Taiwan has long had one of the world’s leading PV manufacturing industries, with some 13 GW of solar cell manufacturing capacity, along with substantial wafer and module capacity.

Taiwan’s United Renewable Energy Company (UREC), which is expected to be officially formed in Q3 2018 by solar cell makers, Neo Solar Power (NSP), Gintech Energy and Solartech Energy will have a combined cell manufacturing capacity of 4.5 GW – one of the world’s largest. It recently announced plans to establish a U.S. module facility following the news of the tariffs. China’s JinkoSolar is also planning to open a module manufacturing facility in Florida.

The exception for 2.5 GW of cells in last week’s solar tariff announcement opens the doors for foreign PV manufacturers to invest in module factories, as current demand for cells from U.S. PV manufacturers is well below 2.5 GW.