Auxin Solar files lawsuit against U.S. government for Biden solar tariff pause


Auxin Solar, a small solar panel manufacturer with operations in California, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Department of Commerce for failing to collect fees and credits from solar imports related to antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) laws.

Auxin began a long saga related the enforcement of AD/CVD on solar goods imported to the U.S. when it filed a petition alleging that four Southeast Asian nations were in violation of trade laws.

Solar component suppliers in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia, responsible for roughly 80% of the U.S. supply at the time, were alleged to be in violation of harboring tariff-dodging goods from Chinese manufacturers. Goods found in violation of AD/CVD laws can be assessed with tariffs as high as 50% to 250%.

In June 2022, President Joe Biden issued a moratorium on solar tariffs, pausing any collection of fees for two years. The move came as solar industry advocates pleaded with the administration to halt tariffs, citing a great deal of uncertainty and solar project delays and cancellations related to the financial risk of tariff assessments.

Auxin argued in the December 29, 2023 suit that Commerce and CBP are not required to follow Biden’s executive order placing a moratorium on tariffs. Biden reaffirmed the June 2022 order in April 2023 with a veto.

The solar panel manufacturer claimed that it was unlawful for Commerce to enact procedures that prevent the application of AD/CVD tariffs, the liquidation of seized assets, and the collection of cash deposits for imported solar goods. It requested that the Court of International Trade reject the moratorium as “an abuse of discretion” by Commerce.

The lawsuit claims Commerce has supported “lawless” solar cell and module marketplace characterized by “a massive and sustained” wave of cheap solar components. Auxin and its co-plaintiff Concept Clean Energy claim the pause on tariff collection has denied its right to relief from dumped Chinese products.

Read more about the AD/CVD saga and its implications for U.S. solar component supply from an online reissue pv magazine print edition: “A moral trilemma for U.S. solar procurement.

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