Energy

Tariffs At Work: US Solar Manufacturing Doubled Since 2017

REUTERS/Natalie Behring

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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The U.S. manufacturing sector has skyrocketed since President Donald Trump enacted tariffs on solar panel imports, with new facilities opening and production rising.

Hanwha Q Cells, a Korean-based manufacturer of photovoltaic materials, announced Wednesday it will build a factory in Georgia. That news came after Chinese manufacturer Jinko Solar revealed it’s building a facility in Florida — creating more than 200 jobs in the state. Additionally, U.S. companies First Solar and SunPower plan to boost production this year. Growth in the solar manufacturing sector has grown so rapidly, in fact, it’s more than doubled since the end of 2017. The cause of this growth is a direct result of Trump’s 30-percent tariffs on solar imports, according to reports. (RELATED: Trump’s Tariffs At Work: Solar Company Plans New Factory In Georgia)

“Absent the Trump tariffs, this wouldn’t be happening,” Jeff Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co., stated in a Wednesday interview with Bloomberg. Foreign manufacturers are deciding to produce solar panels on American shores, allowing them to circumvent new penalties.

The tariffs — enacted in January — are to last four years and decline in increments of 5 percent from 30 percent, 25 percent, 20 percent and finally 15 percent in the last year. The White House’s decision to enact tariffs came after some manufacturers claimed their businesses were being hampered by a flood of foreign imports. Suniva, a Georgia-based solar panel maker, filed a complaint in 2017 claiming the imports had driven the company to bankruptcy.

Solar advocates had initially feared tariffs would do damage to the industry. Those concerns, at least so far, appear to be unfounded.

“No president has done more to defend the American manufacturing base from unfair trade practices than Donald J. Trump,” wrote Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, in a Thursday op-ed. Navarro vehemently touted the success of Trump’s tariffs. “Critics at the time warned the move would hurt consumers, but the tariffs have been a boon to the U.S. worker.”

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