As previously detailed in our September 26 Trump and Trade Update, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously determined that crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells (or solar cells) were being imported into the United States in such quantities that they were causing substantial injury to the U.S. solar equipment industry. On October 31, 2017, the ITC issued its remedy recommendations to address the injury and to facilitate the efforts of the domestic industry to “make a positive adjustment to import competition.”
The recommendations varied among the four ITC commissioners but included quantitative import restrictions and tariff rate quotas (TRQs). Three commissioners recommended TRQs, while the fourth suggested quantitative restrictions only. The commissioners further recommended international negotiations “to address the underlying cause of the increase in imports of CSPV products and alleviate the serious injury thereof.” Commissioner Broadbent found that the main cause of the increase in imports was global oversupply of solar cells from China and specifically recommended negotiations with that country. Others acknowledged this global oversupply but also recommended that imports from certain countries (including Canada and other free trade agreement countries) be excluded because they were not the root cause of injury to the U.S. solar cell industry. Suniva, the primary petitioner in the case, which had requested a price floor, called the recommendations “disappointing” and urged the president to reject the ITC’s recommendations and follow the recommendations of the domestic industry.
The ITC will now forward its report, which will contain the injury determination, remedy recommendations, certain additional findings, and the basis for them, to President Trump by November 13, 2017. The president will make the final decision on whether to provide relief to the U.S. solar cell industry and on the type and amount of any relief. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued a formal notice requesting comments on the ITC’s injury determination and remedy recommendations. Any public comments are due by November 20, 2017; the USTR will also hold a public hearing on December 6, 2017. The president will have until January 12, 2018 to make a final decision on any remedy.