Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Adam Reed

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Keith Maskus


The purpose of this thesis is to determine the impact of the Suniva Trade Case on international trade and the domestic solar industry. In order to analyze the Suniva Trade Case, I first determined the impact that the tariff is going to have on the price of solar cells for both the U.S. domestic market as well as the international market. The second portion is dedicated to determining the relationship between U.S. domestic solar manufacturing employment and solar installation employment due to the safeguard relief tariff. The background covers the development of the Suniva Trade Case, the International Trade Commission’s findings, an overview of relevant statutes and international trade law, as well as an analysis on how countries may successfully seek retaliation measures against the United States in a World Trade Organization dispute. In order to answer the two research questions, I developed a world market economic model as well as a domestic market economic model. Using these models, I calculated the economic impacts of a 30% tariff for six different elasticity groupings. Then with the most probable elasticity grouping, I calculated the economic impact over the course of a four year tariff that tapers 5% each year. Following these calculations, I discuss the limitations of the economic models and conclude that the safeguard tariff will have an overall negative impact on the domestic solar industry. Lastly, I discuss the environmental justice implications of the safeguard tariff and make recommendations for further research.