NewEnergyNews: TARIFFS COULD BE GOOD FOR SOLAR

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    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    TARIFFS COULD BE GOOD FOR SOLAR

    Could Trade Barriers Help the PV Industry Regain its Balance?

    Michael Barker, October 15, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “The October 10 ruling by the US Department of Commerce against PV modules containing Chinese-produced solar cells is just the most recent development in a string of trade disputes that stretch across the globe…[The big] question is how these issues collectively will affect…[the PV industry’s] supply/demand imbalance…

    “…[I]t would appear to be the rise of these Tier 2 and Tier 3 Chinese PV companies that has led Western manufacturers to lodge trade complaints, alleging unfair competition and subsidization on the part of the Chinese government…[T]here are four ongoing trade investigations concerning PV products (with several more in the works)…”

    “These actions may actually have a positive effect in terms of industry rationalization (bringing total production and production capacity more in line with actual demand). This could be achieved by imposing additional costs on Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers…[S]ophisticated players, regardless of nationality, can find a way to avoid otherwise harmful taxes…by altering supply chains…Less well-funded competitors are unlikely to have the resources to pursue such strategies and may find themselves locked out of end-market opportunities.

    “Also, the trade disputes may create increased geographic fragmentation of lower tier manufacturers…Investigations resulting in increased tariffs or the exclusion of foreign products (in favor of domestically produced goods) may help stimulate more domestic PV module manufacturing. Then, the goal of these companies would be to ‘right-size’ local manufacturing facilities to meet domestic needs with the understanding that any excess production in that facility is unlikely to be consumed by foreign PV markets. This outcome could possibly soften the decline of module prices, due to lack of domestic competition…”

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