Chinese producers offered Indian price agreement

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The European solar manufacturers who complained the minimum price undertaking agreed between the EU and Chinese cell and module makers last summer sold them short, will note Indian authorities rejected a similar proposal from five Chinese producers, once they knew duties were inevitable.

Major Chinese producers Trina Solar, Renesola and Jinko Solar, together with Perlight Solar and Hengdian Group, approached the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry about a similar undertaking once they had been advised they faced anti dumping duties of $0.64/W on their products.

Ministry officials rejected the proposal on the grounds it would be ‘impractical to monitor.’

Details of the proposed price undertaking are mentioned in the 156-page document outlining the findings of an anti dumping (AD) investigation into solar cell imports from China, Malaysia, the U.S. and Taiwan during 2011 and the first half of 2012.

The ministry is recommending the imposition of AD duties of $0.81/W on a number of Chinese producers including JA Solar, Gold Poly, Wuxi Suntech Power, China Sunergy and the Baoding Tianwei company whose recent default sparked fears the Chinese government would no longer bail out indebted solar companies.

Dumping margins of 100-110%

Those manufacturers were found to have dumped products in India with a dumping margin of 100-110% and a second group of Chinese manufacturers, found to have caused less damage, will be hit with AD tariffs of $0.64/W. Those manufacturers, including the five who proposed a price undertaking alongside famous industry names including Hanwha SolarOne, Chint Solar, LDK Solar and Yingli Energy, were found to have dumped products at 60-70% below a fair price.

Chinese manufacturer Canadian Solar will also face an AD tariff of $0.64/W, having been found to have benefited from a 60-70% dumping margin.

The ministry does not appear to have recommended back-dating the AD duties, however, stating penalties will be applied ‘from the date of notification to be issued in this regard by the central government.’

But the decision could still prove contentious, with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce among the respondents and likely to have been the ‘interested party’ which pointed out the close economic ties between the two BRIC nations before adding ominously – in the ‘miscellaneous submissions’ section of the final report: "India should handle this case with prudence."

Malaysian manufacturers, including Q-Cells Malaysia, will face AD duties of $0.62/W and Taiwanese producers – NeoSolar among them – will have to find $0.59/W.

First Solar gets off lightly

Having attempted to argue, unsuccessfully, thin film products were not interchangeable with multi-crystalline cells and should not be covered by the investigation, U.S. manufacturer First Solar got off comparatively lightly, with duties of $0.11/W recommended.

First Solar was criticized for trying to include sales to its own First Solar Electric business in the U.S. as part of the information it supplied to the Indian authorities to help determine a fair price for its goods and Canadian Solar, China Sunergy and JA Solar will all want the report forgotten swiftly after investigators refused to treat them as producers in a market economy. In another point of interest to aggrieved European manufacturers, the investigation referred to findings by the EU and the U.S. that China is not a market economy because it affords tax benefits to industries it decrees ‘strategically important’ – a prime example of state planning.

European manufacturers did get dragged into the mud-slinging, however, with more than one interested party complaining the political bloc should have been included amongst the countries investigated for dumping.

EU portion of Indian market was negligible

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry concluded the 5.46% of the market accounted for by European manufacturers during the period in question – of which German suppliers accounted for 2.62% – was minor and, at R55/W ($0.94/W), the average price of German-made products was significantly higher than the average R47.98/W price of products dumped from the nations under investigation.

Opponents to the final decision pointed out that of the 39 Indian solar companies contacted by the authorities to comment on any injury dumping had caused them – after the original complaint by Indosolar, Jupiter Solar Power and Websol Energy System – only three responded.

Critics of the probe claimed even those three respondents – Moser Baer Solar, Moser Baer Photovoltaic and Tata BP Solar – benefited from imports of the dumped goods in question, and should be ignored.

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy both spoke out against the imposition of AD penalties with the latter claiming the country’s domestic content requirements – which stipulate a percentage of solar projects have to include home-grown materials – are sufficient to protect domestic manufacturing.

Opponents of AD penalties will now be hoping the inauguration of new prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday will see him halt the imposition of penalties in order to usher in the clean energy revolutioned he called for on the election campaign.