Last week, the United States imposed an additional 25% tariff on imported Chinese solar cells and modules. This marks a steady increase in America’s trade war with another dominating international power. This 25% tariff was created in addition to a 30% tariff the President of the United States imposed on all imported solar cells in modules in January of 2018.
Solar cells and modules were included in an extensive list provided to the Chinese government. The United States will also be imposing tariffs on a variety of lubricated oils, resins, silicones, and plastics. The list also includes iron and/or steel in bridge sections, lattice masts, columns, pillars, posts, beams, and girders. For the full list, see the following PDF.
The implications of these tariffs are massive. It is unclear how these tariffs will affect the U.S. solar industry; according to the Energy Trade Action Coalition, Chinese products only constituted around 11% of solar cells and modules imported into the United States. Malaysian products constituted a third (31%) whereas Korea had around 21%. The new tariff will likely be much less impactful than January’s 30% tariff, which has already cost the industry around $.25 billion in cancelled projects and lost jobs.
Several solar manufacturers have announced new, U.S.-based factories, taking advantage of opportunistic expansions and working on ways to circumvent the import tariff. China’s JinkoSolar announced in April that it would open a U.S. manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida; U.S.-based First Solar announced it would open a new manufacturing plant in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Regardless of the tariffs’ impact on the United States solar industry, the increase marks a dangerous addition to the ongoing trade war between the United States and other major world powers.