Most Taiwanese solar companies under investigation by the EU are likely to be exempted from anti-circumvention measures, as they do not help Chinese firms re-export cheap solar products to avoid EU import quotas, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
Chinese solar panel and cell manufacturers are suspected of exporting near-finished solar products to third nations, including Taiwan and Malaysia, where local firms assemble the final products before exporting them to Europe.
A total of 80 companies from Taiwan and Malaysia are under an anti-circumvention probe and could face heavy fines, according to market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技).
“Most Taiwanese companies are actually [solar cell and module] manufacturers based on the preliminary conclusion made by the EU investigators,” the ministry said in a statement released yesterday.
That would help clear their position in the anti-circumvention investigations launched by EU, it said.
About 28 Taiwanese solar companies are under the EU probe as they were suspected of assisting Chinese companies ship cheap solar cells or solar panels to Europe to avoid minimal import prices and customs duties imposed on Chinese solar manufacturers, the ministry said.
Investigators from the EU’s anti-circumvention task force visited the manufacturers from October to last month and requested them to fill in questionnaires to clear certain matters.
“The EU sent notifications to only a few of the Taiwanese firms being probed, requesting them to submit additional information,” the ministry said.
The EU is scheduled to make a final ruling in February after releasing a report in the middle of this month regarding its investigation.
Last year, about 30 percent of solar modules made by Taiwanese solar makers were exported to European clients, while more than half went to the Asia-Pacific region, mostly China, according to TrendForce.
Chinese solar wafer, cell and module makers are taxed punitive import tariffs as a result of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes.
The anti-circumvention probes began in June this year and aim to close any loopholes after the EU imposed minimal import prices and quantity restrictions on Chinese solar companies in an effort to settle trade disputes between China and Europe.
The ministry’s comments came as the European Commission said over the weekend that it has agreed to maintain the import quotas on Chinese solar firms during a review period of 15 months.
The announcement came before the measures end this month.
If the EU decides to terminate the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on Chinese solar companies, it would also halt the anti-circumvention probe, the ministry said.
Separately, local solar cell maker Gintech Energy Corp (昱晶) said its revenue fell by 0.6 percent to NT$1.39 billion (US$42.35 million) last month from NT$1.4 billion in October.
Gintech attributed the decrease to a temporary production disruption due to a capacity transfer to a plant in Thailand.
The company plans to shift an annual capacity of 350MW to the Thailand plant.
“Due to strong demand, average selling prices continued to increase,” Gintech said in a statement released on Friday.
The Thailand factory ramped up production this month, ahead of a scheduled increase in the first quarter of next year. The plant delivers about 15 to 20 percent higher average selling prices for the firm, Gintech said.
Local rival Neo Solar Power Corp (新日光) said that its factory was fully utilized due to robust demand and order visibility was good.
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