The U.S. president issued a proclamation on Oct. 10 that cites the impact of imported bifacial panels on U.S. solar manufacturing, while also raising the scheduled fourth-year tariff rate from 15% to 18%.
The ‘safeguard’ duty will be levied on Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai solar cells – whether assembled into modules or not – at 14.9% from today and falling to 14.5% in six months’ time. Malaysian products are exempted as their imports have fallen dramatically since the duty was introduced, in July 2018.
The Chinese government will extend duties on U.S. and South Korean polysilicon for another five years from today despite committing to buy $200 billion more American goods and services in the trade deal signed on Wednesday. Poly manufacturer REC Silicon says it expects polysilicon to form part of that trade agreement.
The global power and renewable energy market is expected to remain largely unaffected by the Trump administration’s new wave of tariffs on Chinese goods. Although shipments of Chinese modules into the U.S. market are falling, Chinese manufacturers sent more panels to overseas markets in the first half of this year than they did in the same period of 2018. Analysts from Fitch, meanwhile, claim the U.S. solar market will continue to expand, despite higher project costs.
In the fall of 2017, German customs had revealed a “fraud cartel” around the Chinese photovoltaic manufacturer Sunowe, which is said to have circumvented the applicable minimum import prices. Among the arrested suspects was a local politician, which drew significant attention to the case. This year, the trial started in the spring, but suspension came at the beginning of July when the customs office did not provide evidence in time. A restart of the trial is expected this winter.
U.S. President Donald Trump has removed Turkey from the list of developing nations that are exempted from Section 201 tariffs on PV cells and modules.
Most large manufacturers supplying the inverter market have diversified production outside of China, but this will affect Huawei and other Chinese inverter makers, as well as U.S. module makers.
There are indications the Trump administration may be closing in on a deal with Chinese authorities but, for now, the trade war goes on.
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