2017 – China’s response to ADD on solar cells​

2017 – China’s response to ADD on solar cells

By Ravish Bhatia

China’s Solar Energy Sector: Within the mainland, China’s solar (photovoltaic) production is estimated to be about RMB 300 billion, making for almost 40% of the world’s net solar production (Source: China Economic Review). It is expected that China’s solar industry would produce 25% more panels in 2017 as compared to last year. (Source: Reuters).

Solar Energy has been given a considerable push by the present government. It’s one of the featured sectors under Make in India. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has revised the National Solar Mission targets five-fold to 100,000 Mw by 2022. The price of Indian solar cells is between USD 0.65 and USD 0.68 per unit whereas that of  cells imported from China is between USD 0.45 and USD 0.50 per unit. Given that in construction of solar power plants, the cost of the panels is makes for about 50% of the cost, construction agents prefer to use imported cells. Hence, with the on-going push for solar energy, imports from China saw a 225% increase for 2015-16 over the previous year (see graph below).

Claims made by the Indian Manufacturers and Counter Claims by Chinese Exporters

The Indian Manufacturers allege “cheap solar cells have captured close to 90 per cent market” (Source: Business Standard) and they demanded action against the US, European Union, China, Malaysia and Taiwan for dumping products in India. A group of indigenous manufacturers had back in 2012 filed a case against imports from China. In 2014, the DGAD imposed 60-110 % duties on imports from China and the US, however the Ministry of Finance did not impose the duty and let the ruling lapse. On the 21st of July, the DGAD initiated a dumping investigation (see initiation document here) as filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association on “Solar Cells whether or not assembled partially or fully in modules or panels or on glass or some other suitable substrates.” Not only this, unlike the last time, they have also filed for safeguards against imports from China with the Ministry of Finance.

Xinhua Release on July 25, 2017 titled “China urges India not to abuse trade remedy measures”

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC), this Tuesday released a statement saying that India should “avoid abusing trade remedy measures and hoped the two countries can settle trade disputes through consultation.” Wang Hejun, head of the MOC’s trade remedy and investigation bureau said adopting restrictive measures for the trade of photovoltaic products would not only harm photovoltaic sector development in India, but also dampen the sector’s long-term development worldwide as well as economic and trade cooperation between China and India. Read more here.

Analysis/Opinion

The Chinese commentary in this matter, as expected is quite restrained. They understand India’s need for cheap imports to meet its growing energy needs. Apart from this, their push at the WTO to get a Market Economy Status (or at least change the way Anti-dumping duty investigations are conducted for NMEs) makes them more confident about the invalidity of this investigation (investigations usually happen over a period of two years – China hopes to achieve the MES in the next 2-3 years).

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