Mon, Jul 28, 2014 - Page 13 News List

US tariffs to hurt solar-energy industry

PANELS BEATEN:A report said that the proposed duties on exports would reduce the competitiveness of Taiwanese companies and production should be moved overseas

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

The US government’s new tariffs on solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels and modules exported from China and Taiwan could “severely damage” Taiwan’s solar energy industry, market researcher EnergyTrend said on Saturday.

Taiwanese companies such as Gintech Energy Corp (昱晶) and Motech Industries Inc (茂迪) were on Friday slapped by the US Department of Commerce with tariffs of between 27.59 percent and 44.18 percent respectively for selling products in the US at unfairly low prices, a practice known as dumping.

The penalties were higher than market expectations of import duties below 20 percent.

The US also decided to impose tariffs of between 26.33 percent and 165.04 percent on Chinese-made PV products.

“The tariffs imposed on Taiwan-made PV products are not low enough for the Taiwanese manufacturers to improve competitiveness against Chinese products in the US market,” EnergyTrend said in a statement.

The research team at Taipei-based TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said that since the tariff gap between Taiwan and China was not wide enough: “Chinese PV manufacturers may not shift a significant number of orders to Taiwanese producers in the future.”

Ahead of the Commerce Department’s announcement, market analysts said that if the levy on imports from Taiwanese firms was at least 10 percent below that of their Chinese counterparts, then the impact on Taiwanese firms would be limited.

However, Taiwanese makers such as solar-cell manufacturer Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光) and solar wafer producer Green Energy Technology Inc (綠能) were already feeling the pinch of the US government’s anti-dumping investigation.

Both companies posted lower sales last month, as customers cut orders waiting on the results the commission’s findings..

The commission’s findings have put Taiwanese firms at a major disadvantage not only with Chinese PV makers, but also with other regional competitors in the solar-energy industry, including those from Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Moreover, it may force Taiwanese companies to adjust their strategies going forward, according to EnergyTrend.

“Taiwanese producers cannot absorb the extra anti-dumping tariffs simply by adjusting procurement or production processes,” EnergyTrend said in the statement.

“As a result, it has become crucial for Taiwanese PV companies to accelerate steps of global deployment to maintain their market share in the North American market,” it said.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said the government would help local companies hire lawyers, accountants, experts on international tax law and US consultants to help the companies deal with the matter.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Bill Cho (卓士昭) told reporters the government would also help Taiwanese firms develop solar PV products that would not be subject to the US penalties or shift sales to emerging markets.

The latest anti-dumping penalties came after the Commerce Department last month decided to impose preliminary tariffs of between 18.56 percent and 35.21 percent on solar panels and other related products exported from China and Taiwan.

Both sets of tariffs would not become permanent until after a final decision by the department set to be made in mid-December.

The tariffs are also subject to review by the US International Trade Commission, which is to make a final decision by the end of January next year.

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