As India and China face-off at the troubled international boundary around Tibet, India has opened anti-dumping investigations against Chinese solar module imports. Along with Chinese modules, those imported from Taiwan and Malaysia will also be covered under this investigation.
The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties, under the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, announced that it shall undertake anti-dumping investigations into solar modules imported from three countries – China, Taiwan and Malaysia. The investigation shall look at the period between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 however, data for three previous years shall also be looked at.
The petition to initiate investigation was submitted by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association, on behalf of four module manufacturers – Indosolar, Websol Energy Systems, Jupiter Solar Power and Jupiter International.
Indian solar module manufacturers have reported very poor financial health and utilisation of production facilities despite the rapid increase in India’s solar power market. While the government increased the installed capacity target from 22 gigawatts to 100 gigawatts by 2022 the Indian manufacturers have completely failed to garner any significant share in the market. These manufacturers seem to have filed this petition as no other relief from the government was coming through.
Indian business daily Economic Times has reported that the Ministry of Finance has refused to approve a Rs 20,000 crore ($3.1 billion) relief package for the solar cell and module manufacturers. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy had proposed this incentives program in order to help Indian companies compete with foreign manufacturers.
Chinese modules, whose prices have collapsed sharply over the last several months, continue to dominate the Indian market.
According to Mercom Capital, project developers imported solar modules worth US$763 million between April and August 2016, an increase of 53% from imports worth US$497 million during the same period last year. Share of modules from China also increased sharply. Chinese modules accounted for 85% of the total modules imported in India, followed by Malaysia at distant 9%; modules from Taiwan, the US and Singapore accounted for 3% to 1% each.
In financial year 2014-15 (April 2014 to March 2015), India imported 161.5 million with 70% of them coming from China. During the preceding financial year, the share of Chinese modules in total imports was 65%.
This is the second time that such anti-dumping investigations have been initiated by India. In 2013, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had proposed to levy duties ranging from $0.11 to $0.81 per watt on modules imported from the US, China, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei. However, this recommendation did not find favour with other ministries, including the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. The proposal was thus rejected by the Ministry of Finance.
Levying an anti-dumping duty on Chinese modules now could suck the steam out of India’s rapidly growing solar power market. Tariff bids have collapsed to new record lows and to sustain these tariffs, and keep solar power an attractive alternative to thermal power, cheaper solar modules are essential.