Brown Announces Chinese Solar Manufacturers Circumvented U.S. Tariffs

Department of Commerce Releases Preliminary Investigation, Shows Chinese Solar-Cell Manufacturers Evaded US Laws, Undermining Ohio Manufacturers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 2, 2022 –  Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that preliminary findings of a United States Department of Commerce (DOC) investigation revealed that four leading Chinese solar-cell manufacturers circumvented U.S. tariffs by routing some of their operations through Southeast Asia.

“These preliminary results show that China will do anything to undermine American manufacturing. We must crack down on unfair trade practices that harm Ohio manufacturers. President Biden and this Congress have made historic investments in American manufacturing. We need equally strong trade enforcement laws – that’s why Congress should pass my Leveling the Playfield 2.0 legislation,” said Brown. “Unless we do more to protect solar manufacturers and prevent companies and countries from circumventing our trade laws, manufacturers will not be on a level playing field and will suffer from unfair trade practices.”

Brown’s Leveling the Playing Field 2.0 Act passed the House in February as part of the larger competition package, the America COMPETES Act of 2022. The legislation would help Ohio manufacturers and their workers fight back against unfair competition from countries like China. Leveling the Playing Field 2.0 builds off of Brown’s bipartisan Leveling the Playing Field Act, passed in 2015, which led to key wins for Ohio companies.

Brown and congressional colleagues also sent a bicameral letter to President Biden in May expressing support for the DOC’s investigation into whether Chinese companies were circumventing antidumping and countervailing duties by routing business through Southeast Asia. Brown has been a leader in fighting for domestic solar manufacturers and sent the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, a letter in August urging her to engage with American solar manufacturers before finalizing a rule on importing duty-free solar cells and modules from Southeast Asia.

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law in August, which secured investments in domestic energy production and manufacturing. Brown and Senate colleagues also introduced the Reclaiming the Solar Supply Chain Act in May to expand the solar manufacturing chain to the U.S., create jobs, and support our global competitiveness.

The Solar Energy Manufacturers for America (SEMA) coalition represents more than 6,100 manufacturing workers in the United States, including those at First Solar in Ohio. Mike Carr, Executive Director of the SEMA Coalition, emphasized the importance of a level playing field, free from unfair trade practices by foreign competitors.

“The SEMA Coalition believes in fair trade enforcement designed to support good-paying US manufacturing jobs. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, our members are squarely focused on building a strong, secure, and resilient solar manufacturing supply chain – from polysilicon through module manufacturing – to meet our current and future deployment needs,” said Mike Carr. “Together, these will ensure we achieve our ambitious climate goals while also creating manufacturing jobs across the country. A fair and level playing field is critical as companies embark on significant expansion plans.”