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India May Expand Solar Anti-Dumping Probe to EU, Japan

According to reports, Indian clean-energy companies that claim the U.S. and China dumped cheap solar cells on the market are seeking to extend their case to include imports from Europe and Japan.

Indosolar Ltd. (ISLR), Jupiter Solar Power Ltd. and Websol Energy System Ltd. (WESL) told a New Delhi hearing this week that they filed a petition to expand the investigation, said Jagdish Agarwal, secretary of the Solar Independent Power Producers Association, who attended the proceedings.

India joins a trade dispute among the world’s biggest economies as they fight to protect their solar companies amid a global glut of supplies. Members of SIPPA, numbering at least 10 project developers, would see their cost of materials increase should the allegations be upheld. They argue that Indian manufacturers don’t meet quality and capacity demands.

J.S. Deepak, the Commerce Ministry official overseeing the case, didn’t answer five phone calls and two e-mails seeking comment. S. Venkataramani, chief executive officer of Indosolar, heading the petitioners, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The initial case relates to imports from the U.S., China, Taiwan and Malaysia. This week’s hearing drew officials from those countries representing solar-cell and solar-panel makers such as First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and JA Solar Holdings Co. (JASO), as well as dozens of representatives from the local industry.

Indosolar, Jupiter and Websol allege that foreign competitors sold solar products below the market price in India. They calculate the damage inflicted on their industry at as much as twice the cost of imports from January 2011 to June 2012. They’re asking the government for duties, both retroactive and current, as well as tariffs on thin-film solar modules.

All parties must submit written statements by July 25 and defendants have until Aug. 2 to respond, Agarwal said. The government is due to decide whether to impose tariffs or drop the case by the end of August.

Under World Trade Organization rules, petitioners must have at least a 25 percent share of the market to open a case. In India, estimates of market size aren’t reliable and it’s unclear whether the three petitioners meet these criteria, Agarwal said.

China set tariffs of as much as 57 percent on polysilicon shipped from the U.S. and South Korea this week. The U.S. itself imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese solar panels last year after a drop in prices led to bankruptcies. The European Union set preliminary duties of 11.8 percent on Chinese modules, which may jump to 67.9 percent if a deal isn’t reached.

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