President Biden is under pressure from members of both parties to reverse a tariff “loophole” that his own government has concluded is allowing Chinese solar panel producers to send their products to the United States duty-free.
The bill would undo a two-year tariff waiver, introduced by Biden in June, on solar products from four southeast Asian countries.
Biden’s solar loophole
The administration has insisted it is holding China accountable for violations of trade law, but a preliminary investigation from the Commerce Department last year found that China is bypassing U.S. tariffs by sending solar products through Malaysia, Cambodia Thailand, and Vietnam.
Biden exempted those four countries from a solar tariff when he introduced the waiver as part of an effort to boost his climate agenda.
A group of lawmakers led by Republican Bill Posey (Fl.) and Democrat Dan Kildee (Mi.) are pushing a bill to reverse Biden’s tariff suspension, which they say is hurting American manufacturing to the benefit of China.
Kildee called Biden’s tariff waiver “unacceptable” in light of the administration’s “own investigation that China is evading U.S. tariffs on solar imports.”
“We cannot allow foreign solar manufacturers to violate trade law, especially when it comes at the expense of American workers and businesses,” Kildee said.
The bill, which was introduced under the Congressional Review Act, will expire if action is not taken within 60 days. It would only need a simple majority to pass.
Biden, who touts a “Buy American” agenda, moved to suspend the tariffs under pressure from the U.S. solar industry, which relies heavily on foreign imports from communist China.
At the time, Biden called the tariff waiver a “bridge” and moved simultaneously to increase domestic solar production. But some in the business were skeptical of the impact on the supply chain, 80 percent of which is controlled by China.
First Solar Inc. criticized Biden’s decision to grant Chinese solar companies “unfettered access” to American markets, while dismissing his use of the Defense Production Act as a “band-aid” and an “an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars.”
Biden sells America out….again
The pushback on Biden’s tariff waiver from members of both parties reflects a growing bi-partisan consensus in Washington on the importance of countering China.
The House voted in a bi-partisan fashion this month to form a new committee on staying ahead of America’s top rival.
Rep. Posey said that China “should not be allowed to circumvent our trade laws and undercut American manufacturing.”
“Our federal government should be getting behind American businesses and leading the effort to boost our competitiveness around the world, especially when it comes to our nation’s energy independence.”