Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Supplier grows to avoid tariffs

AP, BEIJING

One of China’s largest solar panel makers yesterday said it would invest US$309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against what it complained is a rising threat of import controls in the US and other markets.

Longi Solar Technology Ltd’s (隆基樂葉光伏科技) announcement follows the US President Donald Trump administration’s Jan. 24 decision to impose an extra 30 percent duty on imported solar modules.

An Indian regulator said it is considering a “safeguard tariff” of 70 percent on solar panels from China and Malaysia.

Chinese manufacturers dominate global solar panel production. Their explosive growth has helped to propel adoption of renewable energy by driving down costs, but the US, Europe, India and others complain unfairly low-priced exports hurt their manufacturers and threaten thousands of jobs.

The US, Europe and other non-Chinese markets account for only 10 percent of Longi’s sales, according to its strategy director Max Xia (夏愛民).

However, he said Longi this year wants to promote global sales of its latest technology.

“We think sooner or later anti-dumping and trade protection will be happening in several countries,” Xia said at a news conference. “This is why we choose to do the investment in Malaysia and also in India, because we don’t know when and where it will happen, this kind of anti-dumping. So we prepare to counter it.”

Xia’s comment represented an unusually explicit statement by the Chinese industry that it is moving production to avoid trade controls. Other Chinese producers have set up factories in India and Southeast Asia, but usually say they are getting closer to customers or taking advantage of local talent and supply chains.

That migration has complicated efforts by the US, the EU and other governments to control imports from China.

Some Chinese solar manufacturers responded to earlier US and European trade measures by supplying those markets from factories outside China, avoiding higher tariffs and quotas on Chinese-made products.

Longi already has a solar module factory in Andhra Pradesh, India.

The latest investment would double production there, the company said.

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