On November 24, the USITC determined that the U.S. safeguard measure on solar products that is currently in effect is still necessary to protect the domestic industry after it expires on February 6, 2022.
As we described in two posts in August, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has been investigating whether to extend the U.S. safeguard measure on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules. In its announcement today, it said that it determined that the safeguard measure "continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury to the U.S. industry, and that there is evidence that the domestic industry is making a positive adjustment to import competition."
The USITC's full public report and findings, which is not available yet, will be sent to President Biden, who will make the final decision on whether to continue the measure in some form. Biden will have recommendations from the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) as well.
In its press release, the USITC stated that "that import relief provided beginning in 2018 to the U.S. industry producing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, continues to be necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury to the U.S. industry, and that there is evidence that the domestic industry is making a positive adjustment to import competition." It said it would forward its report on its investigation and determination to President Biden by December 8, 2021, after which "[t]he President will make the final decision on whether to extend the import relief."
To assist with making that decision, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), on behalf of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), announced a process under which "interested parties may submit views and evidence on the appropriateness of extending the safeguard measure and the action to be taken should the safeguard measure be extended," and invited interested parties "to participate in a public hearing regarding this matter."
The TPSC is to make a recommendation to the President "regarding the determination to be made under section 203(e)(1)(B) of the Trade Act and the extent to which the effective period of the safeguard measure should be extended." In order to give the President appropriate guidance before the deadline for the determination, USTR has set out the following schedule:
December 15, 2021 by midnight EST: Deadline for written comments.
December 15, 2021 by midnight EST: Deadline for requests to testify at the public hearing.
December 22, 2021 by midnight EST: Deadline for any written responses to those comments.
January 4, 2022: TPSC public hearing.
And in terms of the substance, USTR asked domestic producers, importers, exporters, and other interested parties to address the following issues:
1. Whether the President should extend the action taken under section 203 on imports of CSPV products, as described in Proclamation 9693 and as modified in Proclamation 10101.
2. For how long the President should extend the action on imports of CSPV products.
3. Any other action that the President should take if the President decides to extend the action on imports of CSPV products and the statutory or other basis for taking that action.