China warns against Indian ‘abuse of trade remedy measures’ on solar

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The Indian investigation is unlike previous trade disputes in the US and EU, where thin-film products had been excluded from countervailing duties, including the latest case at the US ITC under a Section 201 complaint by bankrupt manufacturer, Suniva and added petitioner, SolarWorld Americas. Image: First Solar

China has responded to India’s initiation of an anti-dumping investigation relating to solar cells and module imports from China, Taiwan and Malaysia, labelling it an “abuse of trade remedy measures”, but also seeking to cooperate in resolving the trade issue.

Wang Hejun, director of the Trade Relief Investigation Bureau of China's Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement that the Chinese government was highly concerned about the investigation, which relates to both thin-film and crystalline solar cells, including those within modules.

Hejun noted the importance of solar in addressing climate change, promoting rural electrification and eradicating poverty. Futhermore, as solar is an emerging industry, states should be working together to promote its sustainable growth rather than disrupting normal trade order, he added.

Hejun noted how India’s impressive 370% growth in solar deployment over the last three years had benefitted from the price of Chinese equipment coming into India – adding: “The adoption of trade restrictions on photovoltaic cells and components is not conducive to the development of photovoltaic industry in India.”

He said such restrictions would also hinder solar's development across the globe as well as hitting trade cooperation between China and India.

Finally, Hejun advised India to carry out its investigations with a “cautious attitude” to avoid abuse of trade remedy measures, before expressing China’s willingness to cooperate in resolving the trade issues and maintaining development of both the upstream and downstream PV industries.

However, despite the rapid increase in Indian solar deployment, Indian domestic PV manufacturers have been struggling to compete with cheaper Chinese imports in recent times, hence the anti-dumping petition filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturer's Association (ISMA) last month.

Bridge to India told PV Tech last week that India has also been considering the introduction of safeguard duties.

Major Chinese module manufacturers such as JinkoSolar, Trina Solar and JA Solar, amongst others have been major suppliers of modules to India’s rapidly expanding downstream PV sector. 

However, the inclusion of Taiwan and Malaysia in the investigation broadens the scope of potential sanctions to non-Chinese producers. 

In Malaysia, Korean firm Hanwha Q Cells has its largest single solar manufacturing facility as well as CdTe thin-film leader, First Solar, with both supplying modules to key markets such as the US and Europe – as well as India in the case of First Solar. Hanwha Q Cells has typically used its crystalline module production in China for highly competitive markets such as India and China.

The Indian investigation is unlike previous trade disputes in the US and EU, where thin-film products had been excluded from countervailing duties, including the latest case at the US ITC under a Section 201 complaint by bankrupt manufacturer, Suniva and added petitioner, SolarWorld Americas. 

First Solar has a long history of supplying utility-scale projects in India. 

Additional reporting by Mark Osborne.

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