US-China trade debate moving to India

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Bloomberg reports that a statement released by the Chinese Commerce Ministry yesterday announced that India may start an anti-dumping probe. It added, "Local manufacturers are also seeking a 15 percent tariff on imports of thin-film panels, Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary Tarun Kapoor said in a phone interview yesterday."

According to Reuters, however, India’s state-run Renewable Energy Development Agency has denied the reports. Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director told the news agency, "China is getting unduly worried about this as it is a massive manufacturing centre which feels it may not be able to participate in the Indian market.

"Our rules are not China-specific. If they want a piece of the action in India, they can come here and set up manufacturing units. There is no move afoot to start anti-dumping proceedings against China."

Domestic content failures

Bloomberg goes on to say that the country’s domestic content requirement measures have "failed", with companies like First Solar, Suntech and Trina receiving most of the equipment orders for new plants to be built in January, worth 1.1 gigawatts, rather than Indian players such as Moser Baer, Tata BP and Indosolar.

Reportedly, K. Subramanya, chief executive officer of Tata BP Solar, told Bloomberg that local solar manufacturers have received "almost no orders" from developers in the Indian solar market. Instead, Chinese and, ironically, U.S. solar manufacturers are said to be meeting the equipment demand.

The main reasons for this situation seem to be the fact that Indian manufacturers have to pay duties on raw materials, whereas U.S. and China imports do not have to pay tax. Furthermore, thin film products are exempt from the requirement.

Speaking to pv magazine, Bridge to India’s Mohit Anand comments, "The Indian manufacturing industry cannot match the price competitiveness and technological advantage of any leading international manufacturers at the moment – be it American thin film manufacturers or Chinese crystalline manufacturers.

"Agreed that Chinese module manufacturing is subsidized and this gives them a significant advantage. But, the reason for Indian manufacturers being uncompetitive goes beyond the fact that they pay duties on raw materials. Even if these were brought down, or duties on imported modules were increased, Indian manufacturers would remain uncompetitive as, given their current business models, neither can they be price leaders nor cost leaders in the market."

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