Biggest U.S. Solar Manufacturer Wants to Keep Trump’s Tariffs

America’s biggest solar manufacturer wants President-elect Joe Biden to preserve the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported panels or add other measures to help compete against China.

“If you want continued American innovation, you have to have some mechanism to ensure not only free trade but fair trade,” First Solar Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar said in an interview Tuesday.

The Tempe, Arizona-based company is working with firms in Washington to make it clear to Biden’s transition team that it wants help from the White House on trade. “We’re very much looking forward to taking it to the next step once everybody’s in place,” Widmar said.

The company -- which operates factories in Ohio, Malaysia and Vietnam -- is considering sites in the U.S., Europe and India to expand. The decision will hinge in part on Biden’s trade policies, Widmar said.

U.S. solar installations have boomed in recent years, but many of the panels come from Asia. President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs in 2018 to encourage companies to open U.S. factories. While the duties have helped First Solar and a handful of others, they’ve driven up costs for companies that build solar farms and install rooftop panels.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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