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Chinese solar panel, wind tower importers sue Trump administration over tariffs


New anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels

Collected under Section 301 of trade act

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  • Jeffrey Ryser
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  • Richard Rubin
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Solar panels and wind towers are among Chinese products imported into the US by companies that have filed suit against the Trump administration, seeking refunds of US Section 301 tariffs, a partner with the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm said Oct. 16.

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The lawsuits by more than more than 3,400 companies has been filed with the US Court of International Trade.

The tariffs are being collected under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which authorized the government to impose tariffs on countries that violated US trade agreements or engaged in "unreasonable" or "discriminatory" trade practices.

"Approximately two-thirds of US imports from China are subject to Section 301 tariffs ranging from 7.5% to 25%," Norton attorney Keith Martin said during a webcast.

Wind towers imported from China have been subject to a 25% duty under section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act since August 2018.

"Panels made by Chinese panel manufacturer Risen are subject to duties of 106.39%," he said. "Trina panels are subject to duties of 50.33%. Another 16 Chinese solar panel manufacturers, including Canadian Solar, JA Solar, Jinko and Yingli, are subject to duties of 68.93%."

Martin also noted in the webcast that the Commerce Department adjusted the anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese solar panels in a Federal Register notice on Oct. 2.

Chaotic trade war

The inconsistency of the US Trade Representative's tariff impositions has played a role in some companies seeking refunds for tariffs already paid. The USTR, for example, initially imposed Section 301 tariffs on imports of lithium-ion batteries from China, but in June, through its exclusion process, it lifted the 7.5% tariff.

On Sept. 21, Tesla became one of the companies filling suit against the Trump administration. In its filing, it called upon the US government to end its tariff policies and demanded a full refund for tariffs it has paid on its imports of electric vehicle car parts that were manufactured in China.

Other automakers, including such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz. have also filed for refunds of tariffs already paid.

According to the Commerce Department, a total of $63 billion of tariffs have been paid to the Trump administration through June 2019.