Commerce ministry recommends imposition of safeguard duty on solar cells

• The commerce ministry today recommended imposition of safeguard duty for two years on solar cells imports to protect domestic players from a steep rise in the inbound shipment of the product.

• After conducting the investigations, Directorate General of Trade Remedies said that the increased imports of solar cells whether or not assembled in modules or panels in India have caused serious injury and threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic producers of the product.

• The duty recommended by the directorate is 25 percent in the first year, to gradually come down to 20 percent in the six months of the second year and then 15 percent in the remaining six years.

• However, the finance ministry will take the final call to impose the duty.

• India has produced 842 MW solar cells in 2017-18. The period of investigation was from 2014-15 to 2017-18.

• The imports of the cells have jumped to 9,790 MW in 2017-18 from 1,275 MW in 2014-15.

• An application dated November 28, 2017, has been filed before DGTR on December 5, 2017, by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association on behalf of five Indian producers seeking imposition of safeguard duty on the imports.

• The applicants had claimed that on account of the surge in imports of the cells, many domestic producers have kept their production facilities almost idle and the heavy losses have crippled the domestic industry.

• For this reason, the applicants had requested for an imposition of the provisional duty as a measure to mitigate their injury.

• The DGTR is mandated to investigate the existence of serious injury or threats of serious injury to the domestic industry as a consequence of increased import of an article into India.

• Solar cells, electric devices that convert sunlight directly into electricity, are imported primarily from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

• Imports of the cells from these countries account for more than 90 per cent of the total inbound shipments in the country.

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