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© sergey pesterev dreamstime.com Analysis | August 11, 2014

Demand for Chinese PV makers turns weak

The growth potential in North America has always fascinated PV makers, and US’s affirmative preliminary determination on the anti-dumping (AD) duty of this time would be the key to Chinese and Taiwanese PV makers’ future in North America.
How these manufacturers obtain favorable positions afterwards remains to be seen. “Because Taiwan and China face similar preliminary anti-dumping tax rates, Chinese module manufacturers are more likely to use Chinese cells in the future. Meanwhile, Taiwanese cell makers are pessimistic about their future as they may begin to lose Chinese orders. US PV manufacturers, in contrast, can increase their competitiveness due to the extra tariffs. PV makers from other regions, including Korea, Japan, and Malaysia, may benefit from the high AD and CVD imposed on Taiwanese and Chinese makers,” said Arthur Hsu, research manager of EnergyTrend, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce.

AD Tax rates for major Chinese manufacturers fell between 26.33%-58.87%. The combined duty rates of AD and CVD, which is previously announced, have fallen between 29.3%-82.38%. Among all, Trina Solar stood out in terms of tariff rate because it mainly focuses on North America. Its combined duty rate of 29.3% was much lower than other competitors, such as Yingli’s (47.27%), Suntech’s (49.24%), and Jinko’s (82.38%).

“Merchandise covered in the investigation in 2012 was excluded from the investigation this time. Thus, Chinese makers can pick what is more suitable for them between the two investigations for customs declaration. In other words, Chinese makers can use their own cells to minimize the costs and complete customs declaration based on the AD and CVD rates confirmed in 2012. It’s estimated that Chinese module manufacturers will mostly use their own cells from now on. As for other Chinese makers that have combined duty rates of 191.93%, tax rates will have limited impact on them since their focus is not on North America,” added Hsu.

Taiwanese Makers will no Longer be Chinese Makers’ Major Middlemen

Hsu further pointed out, “after the final determination for the US-China trade war was announced in 2012, Taiwanese cell manufacturers’ sales increased significantly due to the orders transferred from China. Also, China continued to take advantage of the loophole to maintain its low-cost strategy in North America and this could be the main reason why AD tax rates turned out to be more than expected for Taiwan. After adding the AD tax rates, costs for Taiwanese modules shipped to the US will increase to US$0.75-0.865/watt while cell costs will increase to US$0.445-0.565/watt. Compare to US’ local module prices, Taiwan’s high-efficiency products is the only products that have competitive advantages.”

What’s worth mention is that in the preliminary determination this time, there were no restrictions on the products shipped to the US from a third-party country. Therefore, Taiwanese makers’ global deployment in the long-term will be critical. Currently, Motech already built production sites in Japan and North America. SAS has just finished its module expansion in Europe. Module factory – e-Solar, which was joint ventured by Eversol and Japan, has started to take the lead. Gintung is also getting ready to build module production lines in Mexico in order to fulfill large demands in North America.

Price Quotes

Due to the decreased demand and excess inventory, market prices continued to drop. High-efficiency multi-si wafer prices declined 0.1% to US$0.952/piece, while normal-grade multi-si wafer prices decreased 0.54% to US$0.928/piece. Also, mono-si wafer prices dropped 0.51% to US$1.177/piece. Market demand remained weak for cells. Pressured by high level of inventory, cell prices came to US$0.345/watt, down 1.48%. In terms of Chinese cell manufacturers, pressured by both Chinese and overseas demands, Chinese cell prices declined 1.18% to US$0.334/watt.

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