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

Stock MarketsNov 16, 2021 03:51PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump reacts during his speech during a rally at the Iowa States Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., October 9, 2021. REUTERS/Rachel Mummey

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge overseeing trade issues on Tuesday overturned a decision by then-President Donald Trump to allow a reimposition of tariffs on some imported solar panels.

The decision by Judge Gary Katzmann of the U.S. Court of International Trade is a defeat for some domestic manufacturers.

It came one year after he ruled that Trump's October 2020 proclamation to revoke a tariff exemption for double-sided, or bifacial, solar panels had not violated an earlier court order.

Trump's proclamation was a "clear misconstruction" of a law that permits measures to liberalize rather than restrict trade, and "constituted an action outside the President's delegated authority," Katzmann wrote on Tuesday.

Shares of First Solar Inc (NASDAQ:FSLR), a large U.S. solar panel manufacturer, fell after the decision and were down 7.1% in late afternoon trading.

The Biden administration had defended Trump, saying he acted lawfully to close a "loophole" that he believed was undermining tariff protections against an "explosive" increase in imports.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bifacial technology is a small but growing part of the solar panel market, costing more but capable of producing greater power than traditional panels.

Trump had said extending the exemption would likely reduce the effectiveness of tariffs meant to help shield the domestic solar industry against growing imports.

But a trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, contended that higher tariffs could wipe out a few billion dollars of domestic investment a year.

The group and some solar farms sued last December over the proclamation, saying Trump acted without going through required procedures.

Abigail Ross Hopper, the group's president, in a statement called Trump's proclamation "an unlawful attempt to harshen" tariffs and Katzmann's findings "clearly the right conclusion."

The United States in 2018 imposed four years of duties on solar panel imports, starting at 30% and declining to 15% in the final year. Trump's proclamation boosted the latter rate to 18%.

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

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

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Comments (3)
MK MK
MK MK Nov 17, 2021 3:58AM ET
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What the banana republic :)
Limin Tandiono
Limin Tandiono Nov 16, 2021 4:04PM ET
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Change president, changes policies. How far will the US revolving door policy go ahead of china ?
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Nov 16, 2021 2:56PM ET
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Too late for Biden to give the good news to Xi, but good news for China none the less. Although I’m sure Biden will throw a few billion of our money to the manufacturers, like Obama did when he transitioned the US to a green economy. It’s all those green jobs Obama created that is causing the labor shortage.
 
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