US Lawmakers Seek Repeal of Duty Waiver on Solar Panels from Southeast Asia

A bipartisan group of Congressmen introduce legislation to reverse the waiver


Seven months after President Joe Biden announced a two-year duty exemption on solar modules and cells imported from four Southeast Asian countries, a bipartisan group of Congressmen is seeking to repeal the waiver.

A resolution of disapproval, which expects support from both Democrats and Republicans, has been introduced in the House of Representatives that demands a rollback of the suspension of solar import tariffs.

The Department of Commerce had launched an investigation into the solar imports from the four Southeast Asian countries following a complaint by a California-based solar manufacturer that Chinese manufacturers were shifting their production to these countries to evade anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

The resolution was introduced by Democrat Congressman Dan Kildee and five other representatives to hold foreign solar manufacturers accountable for violating U.S. trade law. The resolution under the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to roll back federal rules with a simple majority.

Last December, the Department of Commerce clarified the scope of the anti-circumvention investigation, saying that it would allow the import of solar modules assembled in non-Southeast Asian countries using solar cells manufactured in Southeast Asian countries. The clarification was seen as a relief to many international manufacturers exporting to the U.S. who assemble solar modules using cells manufactured in the four Southeast Asian countries.

President Biden had last June announced a 24-month duty exemption on solar modules and cells imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to ensure that the domestic solar industry has access to a sufficient supply of the components.

“We cannot allow foreign solar manufacturers to violate trade law, especially when it comes at the expense of American workers and businesses. 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. This bipartisan legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, will repeal this misguided rule to enforce U.S. trade law as Congress intended and help America’s domestic solar manufacturing industry grow to meet our nation’s energy needs,” Kildee said.

Kildee said Chinese manufacturers of solar panels had a proven history of violating U.S. trade law by using unfair trade practices, government subsidies and forced labor to undercut American workers and solar manufacturers. As a result, the U.S. was depending on foreign supply chains to meet at least 80% of domestic solar demand.

Last August, Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act which seeks to bolster domestic renewable energy supply chains and decrease the reliance on imports. The Act proposes a spending of $369 billion in energy security and climate change programs over ten years.