Democrats fear Biden’s waiver of solar tariffs is a boon for China


A group of Congressional Democrats has warned that President Biden is using his emergency powers to reward China for potentially violating US trade law, and that his actions could harm American production.

They support a Commerce Department investigation into whether China is circumventing US solar tariffs via other Asian countries. But other Democrats and solar advocates have said the investigation has crippled the industry and jeopardized hundreds of clean energy projects and thousands of jobs across the country.

In response to rising fuel prices and to shake up green alternative energy, Mr. Biden used his emergency mandate this week to suspend US tariffs on solar panels and components from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for two years. 80% imported panels and other important parts.

Democratic critics now argue that Mr. Biden’s administration has undermined an investigation into tariff smuggling by China, which is suspected of diverting solar trade through other Asian countries.

Ohio Democrat Rep. “The United States should not potentially reward American solar manufacturers and foreign competitors under investigation for cheating our employees,” Tim Ryan said. “Waving these tariffs for two years sends a message to our enemies that our trade enforcement laws can easily be undermined through aggressive political lobbying.”

Also an Ohio Democrat, Rep. “Any effort that tilts the playing field even more in favor of China is wrong for American workers who are fed up with predatory trade practices,” said Marcy Kaptur.

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Representatives Mike Doyle from Pennsylvania and Terri Sewell from Alabama and Sens from Ohio. Sherrod Brown and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey are among Democrats who have vocally defended Commerce’s investigation.

But the investigation has come under fierce criticism from both sides that it has reined in solar projects.

The White House said the rare step of using presidential power to waive tariffs was necessary to avoid summer disruptions caused by shortages in electricity production.

Commerce said its investigation will continue as planned.

Mr Brown said the United States should “continue to investigate and expose what China is doing”. He also said that American solar capacity does not have adequate funding and that “we do not address China’s repeated deceptions”.

Mr. Casey refused to comment. Instead, he praised Biden for balancing two priorities: tackling climate change and protecting manufacturing jobs.

“I think they’ve done a good job balancing difficult interests. We can do both,” he said.

Commerce said a tariff investigation was legally required after China’s tariff fraud allegations were made by Auxin Solar, a small California-based solar products maker.

Mamun Rashid, CEO of Auxin Solar, questioned the legality of Mr. Biden’s suspension of tariffs.

“It has opened the door wide to Chinese-funded private interests to defeat the fair application of U.S. trade law,” he said.

As part of his emergency orders, Mr. Biden initiated the Defense Production Act to force cleaner energy production, including solar panels, building insulation, and electrical grid infrastructures such as heat pumps and transformers.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the move a “joke”. The Kentucky Republican said he would eventually “subsidize the above Chinese suppliers” because of America’s reliance on the Asian country for key ingredients such as polysilicon and rare Earth minerals needed for clean energy products.


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