U.S. judge rejects Trump tariffs on imported solar panels

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NEW YORK (Businesshala) – A US judge overseeing trade issues on Tuesday overturned then-President Donald Trump’s decision to allow the reintroduction of tariffs on some imported solar panels.

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US Court of International Trade Judge Gary Katzman’s ruling is a defeat for some domestic manufacturers.

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It came a year after he ruled that Trump’s October 2020 announcement to repeal tariff exemptions for two-way, or bi-party, solar panels did not violate an earlier court order.

Trump’s proclamation was an “apparent misconstruction” of a law that allows for liberalization measures rather than restricting trade, and “constitutes an action outside the delegated authority of the president,” Katzman wrote Tuesday.

Shares of First Solar Inc., a major US solar panel maker, fell following the decision and were down 7.1% in afternoon trading.

The Biden administration has defended Trump, saying he acted legally to close the “loopholes” they believed were undermining tariff protections against “explosive” increases in imports. .

The US Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bifacial technology is a small but growing segment of the solar panel market, which costs more but is capable of producing more electricity than conventional panels.

Trump had said that increasing the exemptions would reduce the effectiveness of tariffs to help shield the domestic solar industry against rising imports.

But one trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, argued that higher tariffs could wipe out domestic investment by a few billion dollars annually.

The group and some solar farms sued the proclamation last December, saying Trump acted without the necessary procedures.

Group president Abigail Ross Hopper called Trump’s proclamation “an unlawful attempt to harshen” the tariffs and Katzman’s findings “clearly the correct conclusions” in a statement.

The United States imposed a four-year tariff on solar panel imports in 2018, which started at 30% and fell to 15% in the final year. Trump’s announcement raised the latter rate to 18%.

The case is of Solar Energy Industries Association et al. v US et al., US Court of International Trade, No. 20-03941.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Otis

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