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US to lift tariffs on Canadian solar products

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OTTAWA (AFP) – The United States has agreed to lift tariffs on Canadian solar products and leverage a North American supply chain to help meet energy and climate goals, officials in Washington and Ottawa said on Thursday (July 7).

The deal comes after a trade dispute panel sided with Canada earlier this year, ruling that the tariffs violated the continental USMCA trade pact.

“Reaching this settlement with Canada will promote greater deployment of solar energy in the United States using products from one of our closest allies,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

It will also “foster a more resilient North American supply chain for clean energy products made without forced labour”, she said.

Tai and Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng, who said the deal would “strengthen North American competitiveness” in renewable energies, will sign the memorandum of understanding on Friday.

Washington imposed the tariffs on Canada and other nations in 2018 in response to increased imports it said were “primarily attributable to excess solar cell and module capacity by Chinese producers”.

They were extended in February by US President Joe Biden, before the USMCA panel weighed in.

The tariffs had the effect of cutting by 82 per cent Canadian exports of solar products to the United States, according to Ng.

She noted that Canada and the United States have “shared goals and commitments to fight climate change, create jobs and support the development and scale up of renewable energy technologies right here in North America”.

Solar, she added, is to play a “substantial role” in Canada and the United States in achieving clean energy grids.

Last month, Biden also suspended for two years tariffs on solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – but not China – to ensure US access to enough parts to meet electricity needs while its domestic capacity scales up.

China was excluded as the US Commerce Department investigates whether some Chinese companies are circumventing US customs duties by assembling parts in the four countries.

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