Commerce ministry proposes steep dumping duty on solar cells

The commerce ministry has proposed anti-dumping duty of up to $0.81 per watt on solar cells imported from countries such as the US, China, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei as these were found to have adversely affected domestic manufacturing.

The decision follows recommendation by the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) for imposition of penal duties ranging from $0.11 per watt of power produced to $0.81 per watt of power produced.

The DGAD has recommended imposition of anti-dumping duty on imports of "solar cells whether or not assembled partially or fully in modules or panels or on glass or some other suitable substrates, originating in or exported from Malaysia, China, Chinese Taipei and USA," according to the commerce ministry notification.

Anti-dumping duty proposed on Chinese products face the highest level of dumping duty, ranging from $ 0.64 per watt to $0.81 per watt of power produced while those on the US products range from $ 0.11 per watt to $0.48 per watt.

The recommendation made by the DGAD in its final findings will now be vetted by the finance ministry.

According to the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association, more than 70 per cent of the installed PV capacity is idle in the country and hundreds of employees have been laid off.

This has been corroborated by the findings of the DGAD, which said that it was established that the products were being sold below normal value causing injury to the domestic industry.

DGAD in its report said imports of solar cells from the US, Malaysia, China and Taipei have jumped to 1,73,015 KW (kilo watt) in 2010-11 from 57,661 KW.

"The Authority is of the view that imposition of definitive anti-dumping duty is required to offset dumping and injury. Therefore, the Authority considers it necessary to recommend imposition of definitive anti-dumping duties on the imports of the goods from the countries," DGDA said.

The anti-dumping recommendations come against the backdrop of the US dragging India to the WTO on the country's solar mission plan that allows only local equipment.

India, however, said its national solar mission programme is WTO-compliant and that it would defend its stand in the Geneva-based multilateral body.

India launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in 2010 with the aim of producing 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022.

Once the dumping duties are implemented, it would be a big relief to domestic solar cell manufacturers who have been either forced to shut down operations or were producing below capacity due to competition from cheap imports.