On March 28 2022, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) announced it was investigating whether imports of solar panels assembled in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were circumventing US tariffs intended to limit imports from China.
On June 6 2022, The Biden administration announced that it would waive tariffs on solar panels imported to the United States from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for 24 months, reducing uncertainty for the U.S. solar energy companies that had been spooked the DoC’s investigation.
The DoC’s investigation had not yet found evidence of trade violations, but the threat of retroactive tariffs had effectively stopped imports of panels and components from these countries, bringing the US solar industry to a halt. The Biden administration actions reduces this uncertainty for the solar energy sector, allowing them to import panels of potentially questionable origin. In addition, the administration has invoked other measures, including the Defense Production Act, to accelerate clean energy deployment.
Increasing the deployment of solar panels is coming into tension with the desire to limit the imports of solar panels linked to China. How might the United States navigate this tension, especially as the need to develop energy security becomes more urgent amidst the fuel crisis?
Further, does the US’ push for rapid deployment of solar panels carry the risk of downplaying or ignoring the environmental and social risks associated with the solar industry supply chain?
Biden Drops Tariffs on Southeast Asian Solar Panels for 2 years https://www.voanews.com/a/biden-drops-tariffs-on-southeast-asian-solar-panels-for-2-years-/6606330.html
Solar Industry ‘Frozen’ as Biden Administration Investigates China https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/29/climate/solar-industry-imports.html