U.S. Solar Firm Seeks Tariff Action Against Key Asian Nations

Source: By Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Auxin Solar challenging imports from nations including Vietnam New action could lead to slower solar adoption in U.S.

Auxin Solar Inc. is asking the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate possible efforts to circumvent tariffs with the imports of equipment from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The company alleges the solar imports use parts or components from China, and that producers are assembling equipment in the Southeast Asian nations as a way of skirting duties, according to a filing made to the department in Washington, D.C. It follows the department’s decision in November not to investigate related allegations.

Tariffs on Chinese solar products were first imposed in 2012, while President Joe Biden’s administration last year banned solar equipment using raw materials originally from China-based Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. in an effort to confront alleged human-rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

Biden’s measure has led to blocks on imports of solar modules from key global producers including Longi Green Energy Technology Co.

Read more: Top Solar Firm Longi Says U.S Customs Has Detained Modules

U.S. renewable power advocates have warned that expanded trade barriers threaten to slow the energy transition and solar installations inside the country, particularly new curbs on equipment produced in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Those countries account for most solar imports by the U.S.

“This is yet a new risk for the U.S. solar industry,” analysts at Roth Capital Partners said in a note Tuesday. A decision by the Commerce Department on whether to initiate an investigation could likely take months.

Chinese firms dominate the manufacture of photovoltaic panels, which is a multi-step process often done in separate factories that can be located in different provinces or even countries. Several suppliers have opened plants in other nations in recent years for the last stage, assembling the solar modules.