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U.S. anti-dumping tariffs on China solar firms may benefit Taiwan

2012/05/19 14:57:08

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) The stiff anti-dumping tariffs slapped on Chinese solar energy product firms by the United States may prompt U.S. buyers to shift their orders to Taiwan to avoid the impact in the short term, an analyst said Friday.

However, Wang Meng-chieh, a manager with the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center of the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute, said Taiwan solar energy product suppliers will have to face fierce competition from South Korean rivals in the long run.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in a preliminary decision Thursday it will impose anti-dumping tariffs ranging between 31.4 and 249.96 percent on China-based solar cell manufacturers after it initiated an investigation into a complaint filed by a group of U.S. manufacturers last year.

In response to the same complaint, the U.S. Department of Commerce handed down a related ruling in March to impose tariffs between 2.9 and 4.73 percent on China solar battery exporters that are said to benefit from unfair subsidies from Beijing.

Wang said China ranks the largest solar cell supplier in the world, accounting for almost 60 percent of the global production. U.S. buyers are likely to seek supply from Taiwan in the short term to satisfy rising demand in the American market, a move which is expected to create many business opportunities in Taiwan.

Such hopes about possible order increases helped the local solar energy sector appear resilient on the Taiwan Stock Exchange Friday, when the broader market was hard hit by escalating fears over the debt problems in the eurozone.

Among the solar cell firms, shares of Gintech Energy closed up 2.27 percent at NT$31.50 (US$1.06) and shares of Neo Solar Power ended unchanged at NT$21.20, while the benchmark weighted index finished down 2.79 percent at 7,151.19 points.

In the medium to long run, however, Taiwan is likely to encounter fiercer-than-ever competition, in particular from South Korea, Wang said.

In addition, Wang said the local solar energy sector should continue to cut production costs to strength their bottom lines amid concerns that European countries, such as Germany and Italy, are scaling back their subsidies on solar energy product purchases.

Wang said as China could resort to retaliatory measures against the U.S., it is worth watching closely the development of the anti-dumping case.

Meanwhile, Taiwan-based solar cell makers Motech Industries Inc. and DelSolar Co., whose subsidiaries in China face the new anti-dumping tariffs, said they do not expect any material adversary impact on their operations.

Motech said its Chinese unit sells a majority of products to Japan and Europe, while DeSolar said it's Taiwan production lines will handle the orders from the U.S. in the future.

(By Jackson Chang and Frances Huang)