A handful of solar panel producers are suing the Trump administration for enacting tariffs they believe violate laws governing international trade agreements.
Silfab Solar, Heliene, and Canada Solar Solutions filed a lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. Court of International Trade claiming the tariffs violate the Trade Act and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Because the proclamation is unlawful as applied to plaintiffs, and inflicts grave and irreversible harms on them, plaintiffs seek a declaration that the proclamation violates the Trade Act and the NAFTA Implementation Act and an injunction prohibiting its enforcements against plaintiffs,” they wrote in their complaint.
Canadian solar panel products do not harm U.S. industry, so they should not be included in the 30 percent tariff President Donald Trump slapped on foreign developers earlier this year. Market analysts in the U.S., however, are not convinced the tariff is high enough to harm the industry.
The protectionist policy is expected to decline over the course of four years, moving from 30 percent, 25 percent, 20 percent and eventually 15 percent. They are lower than the 35 percent the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) initially recommended in 2017. There were concerns Trump was considering leveling a 50 percent tariff.
Trump’s decision to soften the blow could have a negligible effect on the industry. There will be a “relatively benign” impact, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. Domestic panel producers will see a 3 percent to 7 percent cost increase for residential and utility-scale solar costs, respectively. Those numbers will continue to tumble as the tariff lessens.
Two cash-strapped solar companies were responsible for petitioning the ITC for protection against Chinese and other foreign green energy producers. Suniva and SolarWorld, both of which are owned by foreign companies in China and Germany, respectively, orchestrated the push in 2017 to enact tariffs on cheap technology from China a week after they filed for bankruptcy in April of that year.
Canada Solar Solutions alleged specifically that Trump’s tariffs on Canadian products are illegal because of the ITC’s conclusion that Canadian imports aren’t harmful.
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