HOUSTON, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. solar module imports increased in the first four months of this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday.
The EIA reported that the monthly U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) module imports averaged 644,000 kilowatts in the first four months of 2019, about 16 percent more than the average imports in the first four months of 2017, before the announcement of the trade case that ultimately led to the tariffs.
The United States imposed tariffs on imported silicon solar cells and modules in January 2018. Module imports decreased in the months following the tariffs' announcement and effective date, according to the EIA's monthly data of solar PV module shipments.
U.S. solar PV module imports, measured in the modules' capacity in kilowatts, increased in mid-2017, before the tariffs were announced, and then fell to less than 300,000 kilowatts in the months following the tariff's effective date in February 2018.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) began investigations on solar PV tariffs in May 2017 after two global solar manufacturers headquartered in the United States - Suniva and SolarWorld - petitioned the USITC for import relief through Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. The resulting safeguard tariffs are set to remain effective for four years, with a 30 percent duty in place for the first year.
The move marked the first time since 2001 that the U.S. government has used Section 201, an outdated tool under the rarely used Trade Act of 1974, to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on foreign imports.
It has spurred opposition from U.S. industries, Republican lawmakers, free-trade advocates, Asian manufacturers and government officials.
China's Commerce Ministry said last August that the U.S. tariffs seriously distorted the global market and harmed China's interests.
According to the EIA, the U.S. tariff rate imposing on imported solar module is scheduled to decrease by five percentage points for each year the tariffs are in effect. The tariffs affect many types of PV modules, including crystalline silicon (c-Si), thin film, and concentrator types. The tariffs exempt the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells per year, as well as imports from certain developing nations.