Taiwanese cell makers fear duties amid booming demand

There were conflicting signals from Taiwan today about the potential effect of U.S. anti dumping (AD) and anti subsidy counteraviling duties (CVD) being applied to Taiwanese-made solar cells.

A week ahead of the date when the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission (ITC) expect to announce whether they have found evidence of products featuring Taiwanese cells harming U.S. solar companies, manufacturers in Taipei have reported booming demand.

Four of the country’s biggest solar manufacturers say demand has lifted the price of the cells they make and factories are running at capacity, according to a report in today’s Taipei Times.

But a report on the Focus Taiwan News Channel website today, claims manufacturers are worried about the impact of U.S. duties and are also unhappy with an attempt by two Chinese module manufacturers to represent them in the Taiwan-U.S. investigations.

Focus Taiwan says Sam Hung, head of the Taiwanese Photovoltaic Industry Association has asked the government’s Bureau of Trade to intervene after Chinese module manufacturers Yingli Solar and Hanwha SolarOne – whom presumably use Taiwanese-made cells in their products – reportedly asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to let them represent Taiwanese cell-makers in the dispute.

Taiwan Focus says that request is due to be decided by February 21, provided that, as expected, the U.S. authorities announce next Friday evidence of harmful dumping and subsidies has been found.

Focus Taiwan says cell manufacturers are unhappy with this move and fear they will not be heard by the investigating U.S. authorities and have asked the government – via the industry association – to intervene.

Taiwanese cells cost more than global average

Referring to unnamed ‘industry sources,’ Focus Taiwan claims cells made in the country cost 8% more than the global average price and 11% more than cells made across the Taiwanese Strait.

The latest trade figures released by Taiwan’s solar manufacturers illustrate just why U.S. duties would be so unwelcome.

According to a report in today’s Taipei Times, three of the country’s major cell makers, as well as wafer manufacturer Green Energy Technology (GET), cannot make and ship their products fast enough.

The Times said Neo Solar Power Corp, reportedly Taiwan’s biggest cell maker, yesterday announced its highest monthly revenue for almost three years had been recorded last month.

January revenue reached NT$2.42 billion (US$79.9 million), up from NT$2.41 billion in December and NT$820 million in January 2013.

According to the Times report, fellow cell makers E-Ton Solar Tech Co – with January revenue of NT$406 million, up from NT$396 million in December and NT$123 million, year-on-year; and Gintech Energy Corp – with NT$1.36 billion in January a slight monthly dip but up 55% year-on-year – are also enjoying rapid growth in orders.

The Times added wafer maker GET had posted January revenues of NT$1.34 billion, a 65% rise on the NT$812 million seen in January 2013.

The U.S. Commerce Department and ITC are considering whether to extend the AD and CVD duties applied to Chinese-made solar products to include those featuring solar cells manufactured in Taiwan after the U.S. subsidiary of German manufacturer SolarWorld claimed Chinese companies had shifted cell manufacturing to Taiwan as a loophole to avoid the U.S. import duties.