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Dumping probe on import of solar cells from China, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and the US

According to reports, the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties of the Ministry of Commerce has initiated anti-dumping investigations into the import of solar cells from China, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and the US.

The Authority has found sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping of the subject goods, originating in or exported from the subject countries, and injury to the domestic industry, and causal link between the dumping and injury. Hence, it has initiated an investigation into the alleged dumping, the Directorate’s notification says.

The action is against solar cells imported from these countries “whether or not assembled partially or fully in modules or panels’’.

The initiation of investigations is in response to the application filed by the Solar Manufacturers’ Association on behalf of Indosolar Ltd, Jupiter Solar Power Ltd and Websol Energy Systems.

The Authority made efforts to ascertain the position from other known Indian producers but “none of them provided the required information in the prescribed format’’, says the notification.

“There is sufficient prima facie evidence of ‘injury’ being suffered by the domestic industry caused by dumped imports from the subject countries to justify initiation of an anti-dumping investigation,” says the notification.

The ‘period of investigation’ has been determined as between January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 (18 months). “The injury investigation period will however cover the periods April 2008-March 2009, April 2009-March 2010, April 2010-March 2011 and the POI.”

The Solar Manufacturers’ Association had wanted retrospective imposition of anti-dumping duty. They have been told that they may “make their submissions in this regard’’.

Although India has 1,045 MW of grid connected solar power projects, the solar panels have almost entirely come from abroad — mostly from China and the US.

Indian manufacturers such as Indosolar and (the erstwhile) Tata BP Solar have lost out on this opportunity. BP, the British energy giant, exited the company earlier this year and the new Tata Power Solar has given up manufacturing.

Under the National Solar Mission, the Government did bring in local content requirements, but that did not quite help the local industry. This was because the local content stipulation did not apply to ‘thin film’ technology (again because there is no thin film module capacity in India).

Most solar power project developers chose to import thin film-based panels, which often came with funding from the sellers’ country.

In the Batch II of the National Solar Mission, where projects worth 340 MW were awarded to developers through a bidding process, 76 per cent of the modules were thin film.

The cost of a solar module has declined from $2 per watt in 2009 to $0.60 a watt today.

There is a general view in the global solar industry that the Chinese manufacturers are responsible for hammering down the costs to such an extent that tens of companies in the West have gone bankrupt against Chinese competition.

The United States recently imposed anti-dumping duty on imports from a few named Chinese companies. The Indian solar cells and modules manufacturing industry hopes for similar protection.

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