India may join US-China solar trade spat

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India may jump into an escalating US-China trade fight over solar energy as local manufacturers lobby New Delhi for protection against imports from rivals including First Solar Inc (FSLR) and Suntech Power Holdings Co (STP), according to a Bloomberg report.

India may initiate an anti-dumping probe in a month focused on imports of Chinese solar products, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement recently.

Indian manufacturers are also seeking a 15 per cent tariff on imports of thin film solar panels, according to Tarun Kapoor, secretary, Renewable Energy Ministry. The biggest thin film panel company is Tempe, Arizona based First Solar.

Indian suppliers such as Tata BP Solar India Ltd, Indosolar Ltd (ISLR) and Moser Baer India Ltd (MBI) have failed to benefit from a rule intended to spawn a domestic manufacturing hub in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Instead, low cost Chinese rivals like Suntech and Trina Solar Ltd (TSL) and US firms backed by preferential trade finance including First Solar have reaped most of the equipment orders for 1,100 megawatts of plants to be built by January.

“It’s a disaster in the making,” said K. Subramanya, chief executive officer of Tata BP Solar, 51 per cent owned by BP Plc and India’s third biggest cell and panel maker. “I’m feeling a bit of anguish because we want solar to succeed but we need fair competition.”

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