At the request of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), The Brattle Group has studied the employment impacts of a proposed trade restriction on Chinese-manufactured crystalline photovoltaic cells and modules. This topic is timely, because the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is currently reviewing a petition that would lead to substantial tariffs on Chinese-produced photovoltaic cells and modules. Petitioners have requested tariffs up to 250% on Chinese-manufactured products in response to alleged government subsidies and below cost pricing.
In brief, we estimate that tariffs will slow the growth in domestic demand for photovoltaic systems by homeowners, commercial establishments and utilities, resulting in substantial job losses. We estimate jobs at risk under two tariff levels – 50% or 100%. We find that a 50% tariff will shut the vast majority of Chinese imports out of the U.S. market, and a 100% tariff will effectively block them altogether. We also estimate employment impacts accounting for two scenarios, a low scenario which assumes low demand elasticity and high supply elasticity, and a high scenario which reflects a high demand elasticity and a low supply elasticity.