According to a report by news agency Bloomberg UK, US trade policy, which has shielded American steelmakers against foreign competitors for decades, is now under threat due to lobbying from the solar industry.
Solar developers are pushing forward in their quest to scrap a probe into whether Chinese panel makers are evading tariffs. The Biden administration, they say, should consider how the investigation is undermining the fight against climate change.
That reasoning may spell trouble for American steel, as any new criteria risks making it harder for US industrials to win new duties in future disputes.
In fact, as the powerful steel lobby sees it, trade protections could be rendered useless if the solar developers win. It would tell US manufacturers that ‘even if you have a valid case and you’re losing jobs’ because of unfair competition, you might be denied relief, said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group that represents steelmakers and workers. “If you weaken that, you’re going to weaken overall support for more trade.”
As solar-installation advocates pitch a different approach to trade policy, several US senators have made direct appeals to President Joe Biden, encouraging him to factor climate into the inquiry, according to people familiar with the discussions who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
This request is complex for Biden, as on one hand, he has prioritized boosting domestic manufacturing—something that’s hard to do if overseas manufacturers are selling cheap products into the US. Yet, on the other hand, he’s promised the most progressive climate agenda yet, which depends in part on a surge in new clean-power installations.
“You have an administration that said they were going to do a climate test on everything....is that a stretch for appropriateness? Probably not.''George Hershman, chief executive officer of SOLV Energy
“You have an administration that said they were going to do a climate test on everything,” said George Hershman, chief executive officer of SOLV Energy, a solar developer pushing to end the probe. “Is that a stretch for appropriateness? Probably not.”
The White House has not weighed in on the push, though administration officials have repeatedly stressed the investigation is a quasi-judicial process, meant to be free from political interference. On 13 June, the Biden administration is expected to announce a plan to blunt the impact of the trade dispute that will include steps to bolster US panel manufacturing, according to people familiar with the matter.
We’re still trying to figure out what the long-range plan of this is.”Leon Topalian, the chief executive officer of steel producer, Nucor Corp.
The trade case has caused friction between solar and steel, two industries that frequently collaborate on clean-power projects. “We’re still trying to figure out what the long-range plan of this is,” Leon Topalian, the chief executive officer of steel producer, Nucor Corp., said in an interview. “We’re going to be a big supplier in the renewable space.”
Source: Bloomberg UK