Coronavirus disruption has been cited as the chief culprit as imports from China, Thailand and Vietnam slumped from April to January, but safeguarding duty also appears to have had an impact, with unaffected imports from nations such as Myanmar, Chad and Russia on the rise and Malaysian trade keeping steady.
India’s declining solar tariff trend will see a reversal as the basic customs duty comes into effect. According to India Ratings, tariffs will likely touch INR 2.43 when using imported solar modules with 40% duty applicable, putting an additional cost burden on Discoms.
The installation cost is set to increase as a 40% customs duty on solar modules, and 25% on cells, comes into effect from next year.
India’s finance ministry has approved the proposal to levy the duty from April 2022. Customs notification of the move will be issued at a later date.
The government should consider offering a 50% capital subsidy for setting up R&D and quality testing infrastructure within the manufacturing units and a 200% super-deduction for the R&D expenditure on new and clean solar technology development. Simultaneously, it should look at implementing tariff barriers on imports for at least four-five years.
Solar projects under construction face uncertainty as factors like labour shortage and proposed duties on module imports could lead to significant cost overruns for the developers.
The import duty will be levied on Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai solar cells – whether assembled into modules or not – at 14.9% from today and falling to 14.5% in six months’ time. Malaysian products are exempted as their imports have fallen dramatically since the duty was imposed, in July 2018.
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