India launches anti-dumping probe into imports of solar cells; China cries foul

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India’s commerce ministry has initiated an anti-dumping investigation against the import of photovoltaic cells from China, Taiwan and Malaysia, prompting Beijing to criticise the move and urging New Delhi to take a “prudent attitude.”

The move comes at a time when the two neighbours are engaged in a border standoff in the Himalayas and diplomatic ties are going through a testing period.

The probe was started after the Indian Solar Manufacturers’ Association filed a complaint against cheaper Chinese photovoltaic cells, which are used for making solar panels.

The notice issued by the directorate general of anti-dumping and allied duties said that prima facie evidence of dumping was found against the aforementioned product of the above countries, leading to injury to the domestic industry.

Indian authorities should take a prudent attitude and conduct probes strictly in line with related regulations to avoid abusing trade remedy measures, senior official from China’s Ministry of Commerce was quoted as saying by Chinese media.

Attempting to restrain photovoltaic battery and components trade is not beneficial to the development of the industry in India, and trade remedy measures will not help achieve goals for renewable energy either, Wang Hejun, head of the trade remedy and investigation bureau of the ministry said.

India’s solar energy sector has boomed as low prices of these cells have helped reduce power tariff in the country. The country added a total of 6,800 megawatt in solar capacity in 2016-17 financial year. Total installed solar power capacity is 13,115 MW, four times of what it was three years ago.

According to renewable energy research agency Bridge to India, the country imported $3,197 million worth of solar photovoltaic cells in FY17, an annual rise of over 36%. Out of this, 88% and 7% were imported from China and Malaysia, respectively, the Financial Express newspaper reported.

The share of Chinese imports has doubled in five years. About 88% of all module requirement in India is met through imports (84% from China).

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last year ruled against India for favouring local manufacturers, saying the country had violated its national treatment agreement by imposing domestic content requirement on the industry.

Launching a probe is not favorable for the in-depth integration and long-term development of the global photovoltaic industry chain, and also not conducive to Sino-India economic and trade cooperation, the Chinese official said.

 

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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