Trump Protects U.S. Solar Manufacturers with Steep Tariffs on Foreign Imports

Construction Contractors Could Feel the Effects
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, President Trump signed into law steep tariffs on all foreign imports of solar cells and modules (crystalline silicon photovoltaic), the technology primarily responsible for transforming solar energy into electricity. The U.S. International Trade Commission backed tariffs of up to 35 percent after determining that domestic manufacturers suffered “serious injury” from foreign solar imports. However, the president adopted the United States Trade Representative’s more conservative 30 percent tariff recommendation.
Set over a four-year period, the 30 percent tariff will diminish by five percent annually and phase out entirely after four years. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt each year.
As a result of these tariffs, solar installation costs are expected to rise. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that the trade remedies could diminish forecasted U.S. solar installations by as much a 20 percent in 2018, resulting in 23,000 jobs lost. According to AGC Chief Economist, Ken Simonson, those figures could “include construction firms that install solar panels and ones that build plants to make them, as well as jobs in those factories, and probably an equal number of ‘induced’ jobs in the rest of the economy.” “Still,” Simonson says, “it seems like a high estimate.”
For more information, contact Collin Janich at collin.janich@agc.org.


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