Indian clean-energy companies that claim manufacturers in the US and China dumped solar cells below cost on the market are seeking to extend their case to include imports from Europe and Japan.
Indosolar, Jupiter Solar Power and Websol Energy System have filed a new petition to request that duties be imposed on shipments from the European Union and Japan, S Venkataramani, chief executive officer of Indosolar, said in an e-mailed response to questions about the case's first hearing held this week in New Delhi.
India joins a trade dispute among the world's biggest economies as they fight to protect their solar companies amid a global glut of supplies that has resulted in a crash in prices. Solar equipment plants have been idled in the South Asian nation slowing the government's plans to triple manufacturing capacity by 2020.
The initial case relates to imports from the US, China, Taiwan and Malaysia. The hearing drew officials from those countries whose solar-cell and solar-panel makers could potentially face duties, such as First Solar and JA Solar Holdings, as well as dozens of representatives from the local industry.
JS Deepak, the Commerce Ministry official handling the case, did not answer five phone calls and two e-mails seeking comment.
Indosolar, Jupiter and Websol allege that foreign competitors sold solar products below the market price in India. They calculate the damage inflicted on their industry at as much as twice the cost of imports from January 2011 to June 2012. They are asking the government for duties, both retroactive and current, as well as tariffs on thin-film solar modules.
All parties must submit written statements by July 25, and defendants have until August 2 to respond, said Jagdish Agarwal, secretary of the Solar Independent Power Producers Association, who attended the proceedings. The government is due to decide whether to impose tariffs or drop the case by the end of August.
The petition is also being opposed by local solar project developers, who would see their cost of materials increase should the allegations be upheld. They argue that Indian manufacturers do not meet quality and capacity demands, said Mr Agarwal of SIPPA, whose members include at least 10 developers.
Under World Trade Organization rules, petitioners must have at least a 25 per cent share of the market to open a case. In India, estimates of market size are not reliable and it's unclear whether the three petitioners meet these criteria, Mr Agarwal said.
China set tariffs of as much as 57 per cent on polysilicon shipped from the US and South Korea this week. The US itself imposed tariffs of as much as 250 per cent on Chinese solar panels last year after a drop in prices led to bankruptcies. The European Union set preliminary duties of 11.8 per cent on Chinese modules, which may jump to 67.9 per cent if a deal is not reached.
* Bloomberg News