WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded a U.S. Commerce Department decision to impose tariffs on unfairly-subsidized solar panels from China. Brown wrote to President Obama in December expressing his support for a petition filed by a coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers with the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission seeking relief from illegal Chinese trade practices. The petitioners alleged that Chinese imports of crystalline silicon solar cells are being dumped into the U.S. market far below their fair value, and that Chinese solar cell and panel producers receive massive subsidies from the Chinese government. In October 2011, Brown introduced an amendment to increase trade enforcement to enable U.S. trade officials to increase trade enforcement initiatives to level the playing field for Ohio solar industry and other manufacturers forced to compete with unfair Chinese trade practices.
“The Commerce Department’s decision today shows that trade enforcement matters, and is an important step towards combating China’s multiple, massive, and illegal trade violations. It’s been proven that China isn’t competing in the clean-energy marketplace—it’s cheating, and its unfair solar trade practices have already resulted in the announced the loss of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs,” Brown said. “I applaud the Commerce Department for working to hold China accountable for its unfair solar subsidies and dumping practices. If we want to have a solar manufacturing industry, we need to utilize trade enforcement tools to combat the massive export subsidies other countries provide. This decision will help establish a fair and level playing field for American manufacturers, including the many solar manufacturers in Northwest Ohio.”
Separately, this week Brown and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) launched a tough proposal to loosen China’s grip on the global solar panel market. The proposal would bar Chinese-made solar panels from qualifying for the 30 percent tax credit that U.S. individuals and businesses receive for purchasing and installing solar panels in their homes and businesses. Brown and Schumer’s efforts come as the amount of new solar wattage installed in the U.S. has grown more than 70 percent per year since 2008, yet the vast majority of those solar panels have been made in China and have undercut U.S. producers and jobs. Brown and Schumer’s proposal would narrow the scope of solar panels eligible for the existing 30 percent tax credit by adding a domestic content requirement. Specifically, the proposal would require that 70 percent of the parts of the qualifying solar panel must be American-made—or, if the final point of manufacture is in the U.S., then 50 percent of the parts must be U.S.-made.
According to the Department of Energy Information Administration, 57 percent of all solar photovoltaic cells sold in the United States in 2009 were imported. Additionally, China was responsible for half of the world’s production of solar panels in 2010, although 95 percent were exported. Currently, the IRS provides tax incentives for all solar panels sold and installed in the United States, no matter where they are made. Currently, Chinese companies can take advantage of these tax credits, on top of the built-in subsidies it already enjoys back in China.
Since 2007, Brown has held more than 200 roundtables, meeting with Ohioans to develop strategies to boost jobs and support our state’s economy. In October 2011, Brown held a roundtable in Toledo with solar industry officials which helped inspire this domestic-sourcing bill.