04.18.17

Daines Works to Protect Montana Manufacturing Jobs

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines urged U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Acting United States Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn to include the trade dispute related to Chinese solar panels and US polysilicon manufacturers in any “100 day plan” negotiations with China.

REC Silicon operates a facility in Butte that manufactures polysilicon for electronics and other products, and is one of Butte-Silver Bow’s largest employers. The company has been caught up in a long-standing trade dispute between the US and China where the US imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels in 2012 and China retaliated by restricting market access for US polysilicon manufacturers. Polysilicon is an essential input for solar panel production.

“It is critical that this issue is resolved as quickly as possible to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs in Butte, Montana, and elsewhere in the U.S.,” Daines wrote. “I urge you to ensure this issue is included in any negotiations with China related to the ‘100 day plan’ that was announced following the summit between President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping earlier this month.” 

Francine Sullivan, REC Silicon Vice President of Business Development: “REC Silicon sincerely thanks and applauds Senator Daines for his request to Secretary Ross and Acting USTR Vaughn to have resolution of the long standing polysilicon trade dispute with China resolved as a priority matter. Obtaining access to China’s market for polysilicon is critical to REC Silicon in Montana, and not only are there high-paying US jobs at stake but there is an opportunity for the US to increase exports by hundreds of millions of dollars – which will go a long way to reducing the trade deficit with China”. 

On October 29, 2015, Daines sent a letter to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai urging him to work with the China Ministry of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative to resolve the trade dispute that is preventing China from purchasing polysilicon from REC Silicon to manufacture solar panels. 

The trade dispute began in 2012 when the United States imposed tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels after China was found to be intentionally driving the cost of manufacturing down by providing their domestic industry with unfair subsidies.  In 2013, the Chinese responded by applying heavy tariffs on U.S. solar-grade polysilicon, the polysilicon manufactured by REC Silicon.           

Daines’ letter is available to download HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Ross and Acting Trade Representative Vaughn:

I write regarding the long standing trade dispute between the United States and the People’s Republic of China related to Chinese-produced photovoltaic solar panels and U.S.-produced polysilicon. It is critical that this issue is resolved as quickly as possible to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs in Butte, Montana, and elsewhere in the U.S. I urge you to ensure this issue is included in any negotiations with China related to the “100 day plan” that was announced following the summit between President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping earlier this month. 

As you may know, polysilicon is an essential input for solar panels and semiconductors and U.S. polysilicon manufacturers have long been net exporters. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing dispute, access to China’s market has been severely restricted. Ensuring that U.S. polysilicon manufacturers have fair access to China’s market and are able to compete on a level-playing field is of critical importance and has the potential to increase U.S. exports by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

As you move forward in developing your priorities for the “100 day plan”, I request that you make the resolution of this dispute a priority. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your prompt response. 

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