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USMCA Watch: JinkoSolar may lose if Canada’s solar argument proves powerful

Canada 466 ESG 59 Energy - Renewables 162 Malaysia 118 Tariffs 1764 U.S. 5146 USMCA 450

The Canadian government is launching a dispute against U.S. tariffs on imports of solar panels under the terms of the CUSMA / USMCA trade deal. Trade Minister Mary Ng has stated that the tariffs, imposed under the section 201 “safeguarding” program under the Trump administration, have been “unwarranted and damaging to the global competitiveness” of Canada’s solar power industry.

The timing is notable in coming shortly after the launch of a series of complaints by the U.S., including Canada’s practices in the dairy industry as discussed in Panjiva’s research of May 27. 

The ongoing negotiations in the U.S. to create a new package of infrastructure spending including renewable energy also provides an incentive for the Canadian government to obtain better terms. There is also something of a precedent given Canadian steel and aluminum producers have been exempted from section 232 duties that were also imposed by the Trump administration.

Canadian manufacturers have arguably lost out as much to other international suppliers as to U.S. producers during the period that the tariffs have been in place.

Panjiva’s data shows that imports from Canada only accounted for 0.5% of U.S. imports in the 12 months to April 30 compared to a peak of 2.7% in the 12 months to March 2018. Shipments have also declined more quickly than average in the past 12 months with imports down by 36.6% year over year in the three months to April 30 compared to a 19.2% slide for all countries’ supplies to the U.S.

Malaysia dominates U.S. solar imports, Canada barely present

Chart segments U.S. imports of solar panels by origin. Source: Panjiva

Over the longer-term Canadian suppliers have lost out to those from Malaysia in particular which only declined by 13.5% year over year and were 61.7% higher than the same period of 2019 and 31.3% of the total in the past 12 months.

Panjiva’s data for U.S. seaborne imports shows JinkoSolar dominates imports from Malaysia and accounted for 52.2% of supplies in the 12 months to May 31 after growth of 418% year over year in the three months to May 31. The other major shippers from Malaysia, Hanwha Q-Cells and LONGi Green Energy saw a decline in shipments of 28.2% and 60.0% year over year respectively.

JinkoSolar leads boom in Malaysian solar panel shipping

Chart segments U.S. seaborne imports of solar panels from Malaysia by shipper on a monthly and three-month average basis. Source: Panjiva

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