Vikram Solar CEO hopes for fair-trade measures as India plans WTO appeal, By Andrew Lee, Recharge News, April 20 2016
India's PV targets have attracted huge global interest
As India prepares to challenge a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling against its local-content rules, the CEO of Vikram Solar – one of the country's leading PV groups – told Recharge he is confident his government will swing behind fair-trade action to protect its domestic manufacturers.
The February WTO ruling came after the US challenged an Indian government stipulation that power producers use India-manufactured cells and modules in order to participate in certain projects under the NSM – a key plank of the country’s drive to reach 100GW of solar capacity by 2022.
Power minister Piyush Goyal told reporters yesterday that an appeal will be filed “within days” and claimed to have identified “16 programmes in the US where states are giving support to their domestic manufacturers”.
The WTO dispute comes as India seeks to rally foreign and domestic investment behind its huge solar programme, which has seen overseas players flock to the country in search of a slice of the action.
The US argued to the WTO that India could achieve its aims more quickly and cost-effectively with unhampered imports from America and other countries.
While so far fighting shy of the type of anti-dumping measures imposed on Chinese suppliers by the EU and US, the Indian government is simultaneously trying to ensure that its own domestic PV manufacturing industry can prosper.
Gyanesh Chaudhary, the CEO of Indian module-maker and EPC Vikram Solar, told Recharge he was confident his government “will take necessary measures to promote the Indian renewable energy sector” in relation to the WTO dispute.
Speaking more widely, he said the Indian solar industry needs to be “incubated and nurtured” to ensure it does not go the same way as the country’s high-tech electronics industry, which was crushed under the weight of imports.
"It's evident that there is significant injury" from China's "kick backs" for exports, said Chaudhary, pointing to the decisive action by others such as the US.
Along with other Indian manufacturers, Vikram Solar wants the Indian government to rethink its reluctance to impose fair-trade measures on Chinese and other solar imports, and said the sector is in "active discussions with the government to mitigate that injury for us" – a process he "most certainly" expects to lead to a positive outcome.
Vikram Solar, which itself exports to an array of foreign markets including Japan, is in the process of doubling its own module capacity to 1GW to meet local and international demand.