Solar Trade wars – Next stop India?

In the September 2012 print issue of the PV – Magazine, RESolve had written an article titled “Solar Trade wars – Next stop India? “. In that article, we had highlighted the fact that countries like US, EU and Japan considered that India is violating its WTO obligations by imposing a Domestic Content Requirement(DCR) for solar PV modules under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission(JNNSM). We were also left wondering at the time whether US and the other partners will lodge a formal complaint with the WTO against the DCR.
Now, in an interesting twist, India’s Ministry of Commerce has formally announced that it is initiating Anti-Dumping investigations concerning all the imports of solar modules(both c-Si and Thin Films) originating in or exported from Malaysia, China PR, Chinese Taipei and USA. The Period of Investigation(POI) will be the period January 2011 to June 2012(The notification can be downloaded here) and this corresponds to the period when most of the PV modules were imported either as part of the JNNSM Phase 1, Batch 1 or under the Gujarat policy. It is estimated that of the more than 1 GW of plants commissioned during this period, at least 60% of the plants used imported PV modules, mainly from the above mentioned countries. If proven, there is a likelihood that anti-dumping duties will be imposed retroactively for modules imported during the period.
Since USA based module manufacturers like First Solar, which supplied about 225 MW of modules to Indian developers from its Malaysian and US factories will be under investigation, there is a very good chance that this investigation will blow up into a full scale trade war, with countries like USA, EU and Japan taking India to the WTO as mentioned in our September article. That will be ironic, considering the fact that USA itself has slapped anti-dumping penalties over some the Chinese firms and EU is investigating anti-dumping charges against the Chinese firms.
The veteran solar analyst Paula Mints  wrote recently As the competitive situation became more brutal, anger increased, …spawning trade disputes in the U.S. and now in Europe. Note that no government is completely fair in the disbursement of subsidies to its manufacturing sectors. Unfairness is in the eye of the un-subsidized”.  This is what we can call “hitting the nail on the head”. Isn’t it?