The Indian government has announced a date for a preliminary hearing for its investigation into anti-dumping allegations against PV module manufacturers in China, Taiwan, USA and Malaysia.
The investigation was announced last year following a petition by the Solar Manufacturers Association, representing local companies such as Indosolar, Jupiter solar Power and Websol Energy Systems.
SMA alleged that thin-film and silicon PV cells imported into India from the USA and other Asian countries were being sold at uncompetitively low prices, violating fair trade regulations.
India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry has now scheduled a preliminary hearing for 18 July, after which the full investigation will begin.
The ‘period of investigation’ of the inquiry will be from January 2011 to June 2012, but will also look at imports from as far back as April 2008.
“Manufacturing in India has been severely affected by the modules imported from USA and China and most, if not all the manufacturers in India are operating at very low capacity utilisation rates, between 10% and 30% affecting profitability and making the final module cost generally higher than competing modules,” RESolve energy consultant Hari Manoharan said.
RESolve predicted the Ministry of Commerce will give a verdict in favour of the SMA, after the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) recently announced a 75% requirement for locally manufactured goods for the second phase of the national solar mission, suggesting “the government is keen on nurturing the domestic ecosystem”.
But any anti-dumping duty imposed would “not be too severe” Manoharan said, as this could “hamper project developers from getting the best possible deals [on modules], and it is the project developers who finally add to the solar capacity”.
“The government would have to meet both the project developers as well as the manufacturers half way so as to please them both,” he said.
Potential anti-dumping regulations could also mean a solution for India in the case the US has filed against India in the World Trade Organisation (WTO): the US claims the domestic content requirement imposed by India on solar projects goes against the WTO convention.
RESolve said a positive move would be “if India were to offer priority sector lending to solar projects, for projects that use modules manufactured within the country […] then the domestic manufacturers would be fighting on fairer grounds.”
Solar consultants, Bridge to India previously said they do not expect equal anti-dumping duties to be enforced on all the countries and it will be difficult for India to enforce anti-dumping duties on module suppliers from the US.