The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has announced a 25 percent additional tariff on the import of 279 Chinese products, worth approximately $16 billion. Among these products, solar cells and modules are included under the category “diodes for semiconductor devices, other than light-emitting diodes.”
In March 2018, USTR had investigated into China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation under section 301 and found it to be indulging in unfair trade practices and pressured technology transfer from U.S. companies. It also found that China conducts and supports cyber intrusions into the U.S. business networks to gain unauthorized access.
In January 2018, the United States had already imposed 30 percent anti-dumping duty on Chinese panels. With the recent duty imposition, imported Chinese modules will now attract 55 percent tariff.
This could prove to be an advantage for other countries including Indian manufactures who already export to the U.S. as well as those who are planning to. However, China’s solar cell and module exports to the US in 2017 was less than 15 percent of the total imports.
The United States became the largest importer of Indian solar cells and modules in 2017, accounting for approximately 28.4 percent of the total market share though in dollar terms it amounted to less than $50 million. India was exempt from the levy of 30 percent safeguard duty along with a hundred other countries. The tariff is scheduled to gradually decline in five percent increments over a four-year period to 15 percent in 2022.
India’s exemption was included as part of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ruling in the Suniva and Solar World trade case filed under Section 201.
Recently, the Indian government announced a 25 percent safeguard duty on imported solar modules from China and Malaysia.