Tester meets with Chinese officials to address ongoing solar trade dispute

Senator: U.S. and China can lead world in clean energy technology

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester is fighting to resolve a trade dispute with China that is keeping one of Butte’s largest employers, REC Silicon, from competing in the global solar-grade polysilicon market.

The U.S. and China are engaged in an ongoing dispute over the trade of polysilicon, which is used to make solar panels. China is the world’s leading purchaser of solar-grade polysilicon, and the ongoing dispute is keeping U.S. polysilicon manufacturers, like REC Silicon, out of the market.

Tester, along with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), met today with Chinese trade representatives to help resolve the four-year dispute.

“America and China have a real opportunity to lead the world in clean energy technology, but we have to resolve this trade dispute to level the playing field and benefit both nations,” Tester said after today’s meeting. “The United States manufactures the best products in the world, and fully opening the market for REC Silicon will help grow our nation’s renewable energy industry and strengthen the economy in Butte America.”

Tester, joined by the rest of the Montana delegation, sent a letter last October to Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai urging him to work with the China Ministry of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to resolve the ongoing polysilicon dispute.

The Senator also spoke directly with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to express the urgent need to include polysilicon manufacturing in a bilateral trade deal with China.

REC Silicon employs approximately 270 workers in Butte. REC Silicon’s Butte plant is one of two REC facilities in the United States that produces polysilicon products.