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US-China Trade War -- Tariffs Rise for China, Drop for Taiwan, Solar Makers Seek US Export Channels

published: 2014-12-17 18:46

United States Department of Commerce has announced its 2014 anti-dumping and countervailing duties final tariff ruling on December 17th. Tariffs for Chinese manufacturers are higher than the preliminary determination, while lowered slightly for Taiwanese makers. Chinese modules’ anti-dumping (AD) tariffs range from 26.71% to 165.04%; while the countervailing duties (CVD) range from 27.64% to 49.79%. For Taiwan, Motech’s rate is significantly decreased to 11.45%. Gintech Energy’s tariff remains at 27.55% while other Taiwan makers’ tariff rates are lowered 19.5% due to Motech’s updated rates. The ruling results in higher AD/CVD duties for China, and Taiwan’s solar cell loses its market entry channel to the U.S. via Chinese manufactured modules. Chinese makers, on the other hand, will produce their own solar cells, modules and use the 2012 tariff rate to sell their products to the U.S. In particular, Trina Solar’s 2012 tariff rate of 23.75% bears the greatest advantage.

Jason Huang, Research Manager at EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, indicates that in the short term, Taiwan’s solar cell prices are expected to rise. In addition to the stimulus from the AD/CVD duties’ final ruling, the prices are also encouraged by the UK, Japan and China’s markets. It is expected to increase both in shipment volume and price in the first quarter of 2015.

Despite the AD/CVD duties’ effects, U.S. demand in 2015 will continue to grow, while the module price may increase slightly. Based on the current price level of US$0.65~0.68/W, module price is projected to increase by US$0.03~0.05/W. “Considering the market supply and demand changes, Hanhwa SolarOne is believed to be the most positive one, with its recent announcement of expanding its module plant above 2GW capacity in South Korea, while other Chinese makers have also established module plants in Europe, Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, India, Japan and Turkey, etc.” said Huang. In 2015, Chinese maker’s overseas module production capacity is expected to exceed 3GW; the total capacity, when combined with the original European and U.S. module makers’ capacity, is sufficient to meet the U.S. market demands.

In terms of the competitive advantage of Taiwanese maker, Huang further added that in the future, as the U.S. market’s module price increases slightly along with Taiwan’s relatively lower tariff rates, Taiwanese makers may have chances to enter the U.S. market to compete by developing its own modules in Taiwan. Currently, Taiwan’s module production capacity is at about 2.2GW, and there is a chance that it may increase in 2015. Moreover, Taiwan’s modules which use solar cells produced by a third country were not included in the scope of this round of investigation. As a result, as some of Taiwan’s solar cell plants have been moved overseas, they can still return to Taiwan’s existing module production line to manufacture the goods for export to the United States.

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