As we described in two posts in August, the USITC is in the process of considering whether to extend the U.S. safeguard measure on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules after it expires on February 6, 2022. Now the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), on behalf of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), has 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 has invited interested parties "to participate in a public hearing regarding this matter."
The USITC is scheduled to hold a hearing in connection with this investigation on November 3, 2021. In the event the USITC determines that the measure should be extended, the President will have to decide what specific action to take. USTR's solicitation of public input is part of the process designed to assist the President in making that decision.
As USTR explains in its notice, "Section 204(c)(3) of the Trade Act provides that, unless the President specifies a different date, the ITC must transmit to the President a report on its investigation and its determination not later than 60 days before the action taken under section 203 of the Trade Act is to terminate, which would be December 8, 2021." The notice also states that: "If the President does not make this determination by February 6, 2022, the safeguard measure will terminate."
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 here:
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.