Fri, Jan 03, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Solar cell firm shares dented by legal action

‘LOOPHOLE’:A US firm has filed a case saying Chinese producers have avoided duties by using cells made in third countries such as Taiwan

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Share prices of the nation’s biggest solar-cell makers, Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光) and Motech Industries Inc (茂迪), plunged yesterday after Taiwan and China were targeted by new anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases filed by SolarWorld AG in the US.

SolarWorld on Tuesday filed the cases with the US International Trade Commission and US Department of Commerce, requesting that they close a loophole in trade remedies issued more than a year ago.

The loophole enabled Chinese producers to circumvent duties averaging 31 percent by assembling modules from cells manufactured in third countries, SolarWorld said in a statement.

Motech shares fell 4.42 percent to NT$58.4 yesterday, ending their longest-winning streak since May last year.

Neo Solar shares fell 1.7 percent to NT$43.3.

IMPACT NOT IMMEDIATE

Sean Kao (高鴻翔), who tracks the solar industry for researcher Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC, 資策會), said the impact of the US case would not be immediate as there were mixed voices in the US about whether to increase punishment for China over the SolarWorld suit.

“It will take at least three to nine months to complete the investigation,” Kao said. “Taiwanese solar cell makers will suffer significant and adverse impact, if they are found violating the [US] anti-trust law, or receiving subsidies from the government.”

Chinese solar module makers have been buying solar cells made by Taiwanese firms to evade punitive duties on China-made solar cells imposed by the US since December 2012, he said.

During the fourth quarter last year, Taiwanese solar cell makers shipped 34.4 percent of cells they made to China, which re-exported solar modules containing the Taiwanese-made cells to the US, MIC said.

RAISING PRICES

Manufacturers are mulling raising the price of cells in the near term after increasing prices by 0.26 percent this week on the back of strong demand and persistent increases in the cost of raw materials, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday in a report.

The price of a solar cell rose to US$0.389 per watt this week from last week, TrendForce said.

“Manufacturers are hiking prices slightly to reflect hot demand, which helps boost factory utilization to high levels, and results in raw material prices rising significantly,” analyst Arthur Hsu (胥嘉政) said in the report.

Solar cell makers aim to raise prices by another US$0.4 per watt in the short term, Hsu said.

The price of polysilicon, a key raw material for solar cells, is expected to rise to between US$19 and US$20 per kilogram this month after increasing 7.2 percent since its price started to rise in July last year, TrendForce said.

Meanwhile, the price of solar wafers would rise to between US$0.98 and US$1.02 per unit this month, it said.

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