A Chinese solar maker being probed for skirting US tariffs will open a US trade-compliant factory

Chinese solar maker Trina Solar today announced that it’s going to open a 6.5 gigawatt (GW) silicon solar wafer facility in Vietnam in mid-2023 to supply the US market – and the company also says it will be trade compliant.

Chinese solar maker becomes US trade-compliant

In December, a preliminary finding from a US Department of Commerce investigation found that four Chinese companies — Trina Solar, BYD Hong Kong, Canadian Solar, and Vina Solar — attempted to bypass US duties by doing minor processing in Southeast Asian countries before shipping to the United States. The DOC said that Trina Solar’s “third country” where it was conducting minor processing was Thailand.

The company issued the following response:

Our sales, operations, finance, and management teams all reside locally within Trina Solar US.

The recent findings will not affect our company’s future regional plans or our existing customers in the US. 

If the preliminary finding is confirmed, company-specific tariffs will be applied in June 2024 when a two-year tariff waiver that President Joe Biden granted in June 2022 expires. According to a DOC official in December via S&P Global Market Intelligence, Trina Solar is subject to a 254% import tariff.

Trina Solar said today that its “Southeast Asia cell and module manufacturing facility will utilize wafer capacity from the facility in Vietnam so that Trina will meet US market requirements and receive exemption from circumvention.”

Trina, which has an office in Fremont, California, asserted in a statement that it was already doing the following prior to the DOC investigation:

Trina has worked to expand production locations, arrange business operations, and diversify supply chains to comply with US regulations and minimize tariff impact on its products.

Trina’s ongoing process already includes polysilicon sourced outside of China and manufacturing modules and cells in Southeast Asia. The wafer facility is a further step in Trina’s supply chain diversification. 

Electrek’s Take

Trina’s news will likely be applauded by the US solar industry, as it found the DOC investigation destabilizing. That’s because the US solar industry relies on solar module imports to meet mushrooming demand.

Today’s news that Korean solar company Qcells is going to build a full solar supply chain in Georgia is welcome, as it will create a big boost for the US solar manufacturing industry. But that industry is still in its early stages, and even the big Qcells investment in Georgia won’t be enough to meet rapidly growing US demand.

Read more: The US’s first-ever complete solar supply chain is coming

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.