Center-right groups urge ITC against recommending tariffs in solar case
The International Trade Commission should avoid recommending the use of tariffs to protect the U.S. solar industry in an ongoing trade remedy case, a coalition of right-leaning policy groups will say this week as a swirling debate over a pending ITC ruling has divided domestic industry.
The heads of six groups, including the R Street Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Taxpayers Union, warned in a letter that will be sent to the ITC on Tuesday that an affirmative decision would double the cost of solar products in the country and leave the U.S. vulnerable to retaliation and challenges at the World Trade Organization.
If the ITC finds evidence that domestic industry has been hurt by imports, it should tailor its recommended relief to exempt imports from countries that the U.S. has free trade agreements with, the letter says.
The groups also leaned on recent history to bolster their argument, noting that the statute under which the case was filed, known as Section 201, is an “extreme remedy with a troubling recent history.” Former President George W. Bush levied import restrictions similar to what Suniva and SolarWorld Americas are asking for in this case to protect the domestic steel industry in 2002, but those were ultimately withdrawn after the European Union challenged them at the WTO.
“Similar to steel in 2002, solar tariffs today would amount to nothing more than a crony capitalist giveaway to failing companies,” the groups wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. “They would be paid for by crippling an otherwise growing domestic solar industry (one whose preferential federal tax treatment has been correspondingly phasing down) and higher prices for energy consumers.”