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China Sunergy Presses India to Abandon Dumping Probe

According to reports, China Sunergy Co. (CSUN) and First Solar Inc. (FSLR) of the U.S. urged India to end an investigation into solar equipment dumping, saying the probe is undermined by errors.

India, which has increased solar capacity more than 70-fold in less than three years, began examining claims last November that imported photovoltaic cells and modules had been sold below cost, hurting local manufacturers.

The country has broken disclosure rules by withholding information that should have been available to all parties in the investigation, China Sunergy said in testimony filed to the government following the case’s first hearing and obtained by Bloomberg News. India also opened the probe without sufficient data to justify it legally, according to the company.

The government “clearly acted beyond the scope of its powers,” China Sunergy said.

Local manufacturers Indosolar Ltd. (ISLR), Jupiter Solar Power Ltd. and Websol Energy System Ltd. (WESL) claim manufacturers in the U.S., Europe, China, Malaysia and Japan dumped solar cells on the Indian market, deepening a trade dispute among the world’s biggest economies as they fight to protect their solar companies amid a global glut of supplies that has dragged down prices.

J.S. Deepak, the commerce ministry official handling the case, didn’t answer e-mails and phone calls requesting comment. He also didn’t respond to questions about a public file of evidence that every case is required to maintain under India’s anti-dumping rules.

The import data provided by the domestic manufacturers to back their claims contain “serious errors” and, if corrected, would demonstrate that U.S. imports weren’t sold below cost, Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar said.

The U.S. company, the biggest maker of thin-film panels, and China Sunergy confirmed the authenticity of their written testimonies.

The domestic producers have argued that the import data provided were the “best available” at the time.

The spat threatens to stymie investment in India’s solar industry, jeopardizing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s plan to turn the nation into a global solar hub and almost triple output capacity to 5 gigawatts by 2020. Instead, domestic manufacturers have idled production capacity after failing to win orders.

During the period under investigation — the 18 months to June 2012 — nationwide demand jumped more than sevenfold to 931 megawatts in annualized sales, whereas domestic producers sold only 9.67 megawatts, according to testimony from Indosolar, Websol and Jupiter. They allege foreign rivals undercut prices as much as 20 percent and are demanding retrospective duties.

The dispute has “all but paralyzed the sector,” Mercom Capital Group LLC, an Austin, Texas-based consulting firm, said Aug. 26. “It’s naive to think that India can impose anti-dumping tariffs and at the same time attract investments from these same markets.”

India’s biggest photovoltaic developer, Welspun Energy Ltd., has said forcing projects to buy local equipment would raise costs and compromise on quality.

“Not a single Indian manufacturer can provide insurance” for their modules for the 25-year lifetime of projects, Welspun Energy Managing Director Vineet Mittal said last month. That means banks won’t finance projects that use such equipment, according to Mittal, who said locally made cells don’t convert sunlight into electricity as well as foreign-made models.

China Sunergy said in its submission that its cells have efficiencies of more than 19 percent compared with 16.5 percent for Indian-made versions.

“The inability of the domestic industry to keep up with the technological developments of the global industry has limited its ability to compete with international manufacturers and is a major cause for injury,” China Sunergy said in its testimony. India “should terminate this investigation.”

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