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Press Release: CPA Letter to President Trump Seeks Strong Remedy for China’s Theft of America’s Solar Manufacturing Industry

January 10, 2018

Washington, DC- The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today sent a letter to President Trump supporting effective trade remedies, including strong global tariffs, that would protect and reinvigorate our country’s solar manufacturing industry. Trade cheating, subsidies and technology theft by the Peoples Republic of China has led to the bankruptcies of nearly 30 American companies -- and significant job losses -- in just the last five years. 

American technological innovation created this industry. The President rightly named China a "strategic competitor" in his National Security Strategy last month. He can now begin to implement a counter strategy to defend our national economic interests, such as developing and maintaining a diverse set of domestic industrial supply chains.

“This case provides an opportunity for your administration to neutralize foreign trade and economic strategies targeting the United States solar panel manufacturing industry,” the CPA wrote to the President. “The domestic solar industry’s story is one that our members and the Commission have sadly seen before (severe overcapacity, rising imports, and crushing losses), and one that we will inevitably see again absent much needed trade relief. An affirmative determination is necessary to prevent the complete collapse of a critical manufacturing industry, the elimination of future innovation, wage stagnation and the loss of thousands of good paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.”  

The full text of the letter is below and here.  

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January 10, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Re: USITC INV. NO: TA-201-75 (Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether Or Not Partially or Fully Assembled Into Other Products)

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (“CPA”), we write in support of the Section 201 petitions filed by SolarWorld and Suniva in the International Trade Commission’s (“Commission”) investigation of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells (Whether or Not Partially or Fully Assembled Into Other Products).

CPA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing the interests of 4.1 million households through our agricultural, manufacturing and labor members. We are an unrivaled coalition of manufacturing, agricultural and labor interests working together to rebuild an America for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

We believe America can provide good jobs for workers, affordable goods for consumers, opportunity for farms and manufacturers and a clean environment without compromising our national sovereignty and security. Enforcement of trade laws is a priority for our members.

CPA is deeply troubled by the recent surge of imports that have all but devastated the U.S. solar cell and module manufacturing industry. The CPA’s members know all too well the severe impact that destructive import surges from foreign powers, driven by
billions in subsidies and cheap loans, have on domestic manufacturers, their workers and economic growth.

Your recently released National Security Strategy importantly recognizes that America is engaged in a new era of competition with rival nations. You recognize that the basis of this competition is not only military and political but economic. This case provides an opportunity for your administration to neutralize foreign trade and economic strategies targeting the United States solar panel manufacturing industry.

Because of large and growing solar overcapacity, largely fueled by China, solar imports into the U.S. market have more than quadrupled since 2012. The import surge followed the adoption of China’s 12th Five Year which targeted solar power as a strategic emerging industry to be developed regardless of market forces. The result has been devastating for the domestic industry. As global prices plummeted dramatically, U.S. producers have suffered tremendous financial losses, declared bankruptcy, and closed facilities. We understand that between 2012 and 2016, nearly 30 U.S. solar manufacturing companies closed their doors. Domestic producer market share declined. Hundreds of workers have lost good paying U.S. manufacturing jobs as a result. That these severe effects occurred during a period of booming U.S. demand, and despite two successful solar trade cases, is all the more troubling and simply underscores the urgent need for trade relief in this case.

This is why our organization supports the strong remedies proposed by Suniva and SolarWorld, including a global tariff. A global tariff would ensure that China does not follow its playbook for successfully sidestepping sanctions by shifting solar manufacturing to proxy countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

We understand that some U.S. installers are concerned that this tariff and other critical measures would deny their businesses and US consumers access to cheap imports. CPA’s economic work reveals that excessively ceding production in exchange for low consumer prices (1) reduces jobs; (2) reduces wages in affected industries and in affected supply chains and communities; (3) eliminates future innovation; and (4) forecloses future industries that would otherwise be built from the lost industries. Losing domestic production also increases the risk of future monopolistic price increases by foreign producers. Congress recognized, in enacting section 201, that successful economies must balance production with consumption interests. Excessive reliance upon consumption without sufficient supply chain production causes economic decline.

America cannot afford to lose another manufacturing industry to imports, particularly one that combines high-tech and renewable energy like the solar industry. China and other countries have rightly determined that solar power is a strategic manufacturing and innovation sector. U.S. producers developed solar technology and have been at the forefront of solar technological innovation for years. We need to stand up for this industry like we did for semiconductors back in the 1990s, and keep research and development and critical technological knowhow in the United States. Indeed, it was trade relief that permitted the U.S. semiconductor industry to stay on top back then, and it is trade relief that will allow the U.S. solar manufacturing industry to stay alive and thrive now. The domestic solar industry’s story is one that our members and the Commission have sadly seen before (severe overcapacity, rising imports, and crushing losses), and one that we will inevitably see again absent much needed trade relief. An affirmative determination is necessary to prevent the complete collapse of a critical manufacturing industry, the elimination of future innovation, wage stagnation and the loss of thousands of good paying U.S. manufacturing jobs

Sincerely,

Michael Stumo
CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America

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Cc:

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20508

The Honorable Kevin Hassett, Chair
Council of Economic Advisors
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Gary Cohn, Director
National Economic Council
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20230

The Honorable Rick Perry, Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

The Honorable Rex Tillerson, Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable James Mattis, Secretary
U.S. Department of Defense
Washington, DC 20301

The Honorable E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460


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  • You have to own something before someone can steal it. No one owns the Solar Industry.