Photo of William Isasi

William Isasi has more than 20 years of experience advising governments and companies on all aspects of antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings and World Trade Organization (WTO) litigation. In private practice, he has represented companies in the aircraft, steel, oil and gas, chemical, paper, and ball bearing industries, and successfully secured low antidumping and countervailing duty tariffs for his clients. He also advises U.S. companies on the viability of petitioning for antidumping or countervailing duty orders. He joined the firm after serving as an Assistant Chief Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Chief Counsel for Trade Enforcement & Compliance. In that role, he provided extensive legal advice on trade enforcement to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement & Compliance, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and other Department officials.

On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued proposed rules implementing President Biden’s emergency declaration to provide temporary tariff relief on certain imports of solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.[1] Commerce has provided the public with a 30-day period to comment on the proposed rules.

If enacted in their current form, the proposed rules would provide meaningful relief and increased tariff certainty to U.S. importers of solar cells and modules from these four Southeast Asian countries.  Specifically, under the proposed rules, Commerce will not impose tariffs during the emergency period established by President Biden on imports of solar cells and modules from those countries even if the products are found to be circumventing an existing antidumping (“AD”) or countervailing duty (“CVD”) order.  The proposed rules do not affect tariffs on imports that are already within the scope of existing AD/CVD orders on solar cells and modules from mainland China or Taiwan, including in-scope modules that incorporate cells from mainland China or Taiwan but are assembled in a different country.

While the proposed rules would represent a positive development for foreign manufacturers, U.S. importers, and U.S. consumers, including the U.S. solar project development industry, if promulgated in their current form, changes to the rules are possible.  It is therefore important for parties with a stake in Commerce’s pending circumvention inquiries to file comments by the August 1, 2022 deadline. 

Continue Reading Commerce Invites Comments on Proposed Rules Implementing Presidential Emergency Declaration on Solar Tariffs 

Presidential Action Triggered by Crisis in the U.S. Solar Industry

In recent months, the U.S. solar industry has been in the midst of an existential crisis, triggered by the threatened imposition of retroactive and future tariffs on a significant portion of U.S. imports. That crisis began on April 1, 2022, when the Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) initiated an inquiry to determine whether solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are circumventing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on solar cells from China. Solar cells from these countries generally accounted for approximately 80% of U.S. solar module imports in 2020.[1] If Commerce finds circumvention, solar cells and modules from the four target countries could not only be subject to combined AD/CVD tariffs approaching 250%, but Commerce’s regulations also allow for the agency to apply these tariffs retroactively to merchandise entering on or after April 1, 2022 (and potentially as far back as November 4, 2021). This threat of AD/CVD tariffs triggered a steep decrease in imports of solar cells and modules from Southeast Asia, and caused parts of the U.S. solar industry to come to a stand-still, furthering domestic reliance on coal.[2] Given this paralysis in the solar industry, lawmakers and others urged the President to provide relief from potential AD/CVD tariffs.[3]

Continue Reading President Acts to Prevent Import Tariffs on Solar Cells and Modules from Southeast Asia

On March 12, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) affirmed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (“Commerce”) determination that solar panels assembled in China from non-Chinese cells were subject to antidumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD).  See Canadian Solar, Inc. v. United States.  In doing so, the Federal Circuit found that Commerce had discretion to depart from its long-standing practice of using a substantial transformation test to determine country of origin and instead the agency may fashion different tests for different AD/CVD orders.  The discretion recognized in this ruling creates greater uncertainty for importers with respect to the country of origin of imports covered by AD/CVD orders, making customs compliance more difficult.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Rules Broad Discretion for Commerce in Country of Origin of AD/CVD Imports