Ohio senators challenge India anti-dumping duties

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Senators for the US state of Ohio, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, have written to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) opposing India’s anti-dumping duties on US solar manufacturers.

In a letter addressed to US trade representative, Michael Froman, the two senators asked the USTR to challenge the proposed anti-dumping duties due to their likely effect on Ohio solar companies and their ability to compete internationally.

The letter said  the senators had “serious concern about recent action taken by the Indian government” and the “harmful consequences” of closing off the market in India to US solar companies.

“Ohio’s solar manufacturers and their supply chain partners are globally competitive and leaders in solar innovation, and it is critical that they get equal access to the Indian market” the senators write.  

The Ohio senators’ letter also aims to influence India’s new finance minister, Arun Jaitley, ahead of with India due to announce its first annual budget to be announced 10 July.

US thin-film manufacturer, First Solar, has a plant in Toledo, Ohio. In 2013, analysts estimated that 42% of modules used in India were thin film, with First Solar accounting for the highest market share in modules overall. The senators drew attention to the disadvantage First Solar would face if paying anti dumping duties.

The duties are currently only recommended; under the recommendations US thin-film panels are to face an anti-dumping levy of US$0.11, and silicon-based panels US$0.48 per watt.

Senators Portman and Brown claimed that with the anti-dumping levies added to US solar panels, US exports would become uncompetitive in India’s market.

Brown and Portman have also expressed concern over allegations that India has broken World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules and used preferential information in its investigation into setting anti-dumping prices.

The deadline for reversing the anti dumping decision is on 20 August – under the circumstance the duties are not reversed, the senators ask the USTR to continue to contest the decision with the WTO.

Project developers, including India-based Welspun and several industry analysts have warned that anti-dumping duties would pose a serious threat to the industry’s future.

India and the US have been locked in a trade dispute over various disagreements, including the second phase of India’s national solar programme, for some time. 

In May the WTO dropped a request by the US to set up a panel to review India’s controversial domestic content requirement as part of the country’s national solar programme. The WTO was forced to refuse the US’ request for the review, made in February, after India rejected the demand.

With the national solar mission targeting 20GW by 2020, the senators have urged the USTR to secure US trade to meet the proposed 20GW market.

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