House Republicans and Democrats are looking to reverse President Joe Biden’s tariff waivers for suspected Chinese companies that are reportedly funneling their solar panels through other countries to evade United States trade rules.
In June 2022, Biden announced a 24-month tariff moratorium on solar panel imports from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Officials from Commerce Department suspect the panels were made in China by Chinese firms, but they have been sent through four countries of southeast Asia to avoid tariffs.
The tariff moratorium came even as Biden’s Commerce Department found that BYD Hong Kong rerouted its production through Cambodia, Canadian Solar and Trina through Thailand, and Vina Solar through Vietnam to specifically evade U.S. tariffs on China-made solar panels.
Already, about 80 percent of solar panels installed in the U.S. are made in China or by Chinese companies.
Last week, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Dan Kildee (D-MI) — joined by Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Garret Graves (R-LA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Bob Latta (R-OH) — introduced legislation that would reverse the tariff waivers.
“The Communist Party of China should not be allowed to circumvent our trade laws and undercut American manufacturing,”Posey stated in a statement that:
It is important that the federal government supports American business and leads efforts to improve our competitiveness around the world, especially when it comes to our nation’s energy independence. [Emphasis added]
The legislation would use the Congressional Review Act to allow lawmakers to rescind Biden’s tariff moratorium which was finalized as a Commerce Department regulation in late 2022.
“We cannot allow foreign solar manufacturers to violate trade law, especially when it comes at the expense of American workers and businesses,”Kildee spoke. “The Biden administration found in its own investigation that China is evading U.S. tariffs on solar imports, but has paused action on this matter, which is unacceptable.”
Michael Stumo, from the Coalition for a Prosperous America, praised the legislation
This legislation was passed by both parties. This is a significant win for American manufacturing and the thousands of American workers. that they employ … It’s unconscionable President Biden would undermine the independence.Commerce has launched a judicial investigation and found that China is illegally evading AD/CVD duties. [Emphasis added]
Biden’s solar panel tariff moratorium came after intense lobbying from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) which has been revealed to be representing Chinese solar companies, some of which are accused of using forced slave labor in Xinjiang.
From 2001 to 2018, U.S. free trade with China eliminated 3.7 million American jobs from the economy — 2.8 million of which were lost in American manufacturing. At least 50,000 American manufacturing facilities were closed during that time.
These massive job losses coincide with an expanding U.S. China trade deficit. Before China joined WTO in 1985, the U.S. trade gap with China was at $6 billion. The U.S. trade deficit against China was more than $345 Billion in 2019.
While skyrocketing U.S. trade deficits have led to devastation across America’s working and middle-class communities over the last two decades, tariffs would be a boon for reshoring jobs and boosting wages, studies show.
A recent study from economists at the Coalition for a Prosperous America, for instance, finds that tariffs on nearly all foreign imports would create about 10 million American jobs while boosting domestic output.
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