Solar industry gets more time to submit responses for safeguard duty review


Domestic producers, importers and also foreign producers have until May 11 to submit their responses to the questionnaire posed by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry as it probes the need for continuing with the imposition of safeguard duty on solar cells, whether or not assembled into modules.

The extension in the timeline—earlier set for April 30—has been granted in view of the difficulties faced by the industry due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

“Various interested parties have expressed their inability to file responses to the questionnaire within the extended timelines, i.e., by April 30, 2020, due to imposition of the nationwide complete lockdown by government of India. Based on these requests, the Director General has granted final extension of time to May 11 to file responses to the questionnaire [which is part of the review] investigation”—read a notification issued by the DGTR.

Safeguard duty

In July 2018, based on DGTR recommendations the Indian government levied a safeguard duty of 25% on solar cell and module imports from China and Malaysia for two years.

As per the notification of the finance ministry, a 25% safeguard duty was imposed between July 30, 2018 and July 29, 2019. This gradually comes down to 20% between July 30, 2019 and January 29, 2020, and finally 15% between January 30, 2020 and July 29, 2020.

As the safeguard duty comes to an end in July this year, domestic solar producers—including Mundra Solar PV, Jupiter Solar Power and Jupiter International, through the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA)—have sought continuation of the duties for a further period of four years to protect them from the injury caused by increased imports.

Having examined their application, the DGTR found a prima facie evidence that imports of solar cells and modules in India continued at increased levels despite imposition of safeguard duty; the domestic industry is adjusting positively in terms of reduced cost of sales, increased production & sales and lowered losses; and imports still continue to undercut and suppress the prices of domestic manufacturers leading to lower realization and thereby continued financial losses.

On the basis of the prima facie evidence submitted by the domestic industry, the DGTR has initiated a review investigation to examine the need for continued imposition of safeguard duty.

The period of investigation for the present probe will extend from April 2016 to September 30, 2019.

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