US Congress Overturns Solar Panel Import Tariff Waiver, Biden Says Will Veto

Tariff suspension aimed to meet climate goals and bridge domestic manufacturing capacity


U.S. lawmakers have voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s decision to suspend tariffs on solar panels from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, countries that together provide most of the panels used in the United States.

However, the White House has announced that Biden will veto congressional attempts to overturn his decision to waive solar import tariffs for the four Southeast Asian nations, Reuters reported.

The White House suspended the tariffs last year to exempt solar panel imports from those countries from tariffs for a two-year duration, using the Defense Production Act to enhance domestic solar panel manufacturing.

The move was aimed at hastening U.S.’s clean energy development to ensure that the domestic solar industry has access to a sufficient supply of the components, which is essential in the fight against climate change.

In a bipartisan move, the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives had recently decided to vote against the suspension of solar import tariffs. “China is obviously circumventing American tariffs designed to ensure a level playing field for American workers,” it had said.

The CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Abigail Ross Hopper, expressed disappointment that the lawmakers had voted in favor of imposing retroactive tariffs on solar panel imports, which she believes will cause 30,000 people to lose their jobs this year and hinder the country’s progress towards its clean energy goals.

Hopper argued that the U.S. cannot currently produce enough solar panels to meet demand and that the moratorium on tariffs provides a strategic bridge to enable the country to establish domestic manufacturing capacity.

The waiver was introduced to create a “bridge” while US manufacturing ramps up enough to supply domestic projects required to achieve climate change goals, with those four countries currently accounting for 80% of U.S. panel supplies.

Domestic manufacturers argue that the tariffs are needed now to compete with cheaper panels made overseas.

However, the White House opposed the move, claiming that it would harm the country’s energy security and undermine its progress toward addressing the climate crisis.

The White House stated it believes the policy has been successful, pointing to the increase in domestic solar manufacturing capacity since Biden came into office.

The news agency reported that Biden is not planning to extend the tariff waivers after the denoted two-year period because of the increase in domestic manufacturing capacity.