Late last month, the government ordered a safeguard duty investigation into increased imports of solar cells in order to protect domestic manufacturers. But today, the Association of Solar Industries of all India (AISIA), the industrial body of national solar energy manufacturers, is strongly opposed to the imposition of the general import tariff, arguing that it will harm manufacturers operating in economic zones. specials (ZEE).
"SEZ units are treated on a par with foreign manufacturers and, therefore, any safeguard right will be detrimental to the national solar industry as a whole," AISIA general secretary Gyanesh Chaudhary said in a statement. release. Ironically, the probe was ordered after the national industry approached the Directorate General of Safeguards last month. The Association of Indian Solar Energy Manufacturers (ISMA) filed a complaint on behalf of five Indian producers -Mundra Solar PV, Indosolar, Jupiter Solar Power, Websol Energy Systems and Helios Photo Voltaic- alleging that their market share has remained stagnant Despite the rapid expansion demand for solar cells in the country.
Within the framework of the World Trade Organization, a member country may impose a safeguard right for a certain period of time if the quantity of imports exceeds domestic production, thus damaging the national industry.
Imports of solar cells, mainly from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, increased from 1,275 mw in 2014-15 to 9,331 mw in the last fiscal year. On the other hand, domestic production remained at 246 mw in fiscal year 2015 and is likely to increase to 1,164 mw in the current fiscal year. The market share of national players has declined steadily in the same period, from 13% to 7% estimated. In light of the above, ISMA had requested the duty of safeguarding on "solar cells assembled or not in modules or panels" immediately for four years.
AISIA has responded that 60% of the solar capacity currently installed in the country is in the EEZ. In addition, EEZs account for approximately 45% of the 8,300 mw of solar module manufacturing facilities. "Therefore, the indigenous manufactures located in the Special Zones will fall within the scope of any general duty imposed on the solar cells and modules, which will make them uncompetitive," said Chaudhary.
The association also said that the specific anti-dumping tax on imports from China, which is flooding the domestic market with its cheap solar modules, is making the domestic industry unviable. In fiscal year 2017, the estimated demand for solar modules was around 6000 mw, which is expected to increase to 10,000 mw this fiscal year. "The objective of duty should be to protect the domestic industry from dumping, imposing tariffs on domestic manufacturers can also lead to an increase in the cost of energy that will discourage domestic industry," he added.
This, by the way, is just the kind of protectionism the United States has long accused of India. In 2013, Washington complained to the WTO that India's solar program was discriminatory and that US solar exports to India had fallen by 90% since 2011.
In 2016, the WTO found India guilty of violating the rules commercial by requiring solar energy developers to use cells and modules manufactured in India. The panel also eliminated incentive policies, such as subsidies granted to domestic solar companies. But, last month, the United States unleashed a new round of disputes in the WTO, arguing that India had not complied with the previous ruling.
In a statement issued yesterday by the WTO, India has responded that it has changed its rules to comply with the resolution and that the United States' claim of punitive trade sanctions is baseless. The Indian statement added that Washington omitted legal steps, did not follow the correct procedure of the WTO and failed to mention any specific level of trade sanctions it proposed to level in India, leaving India "severely handicapped".
In any case, such accusations do not augur well for the solar energy sector. According to Quartz India, against the annual target of the National Solar Mission of 15,000 MW for 2017-2018, India entrusted a little more than 3,000 MW of solar energy as of December 2017. That makes the Government's goal of 100 gw of Solar capacity for 2022 is a bit of a joke, unless things change significantly in the field.
With inputs from the agency