Hearing on Continued Imposition of Safeguard Duty on Solar Imports Rescheduled

The Director-General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) has rescheduled the oral hearing to discuss the continued imposition of safeguard duty (SGD) on the import of solar cells and modules to India.

The hearing will be held on July 3, 2020, through a digital video conference on the specified date at 3:00 pm in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The oral hearing was previously scheduled to be held on June 11, 2020, but was postponed due to certain administrative exigencies, according to the DGTR’s notice.

The safeguard duty, which was imposed starting from July 30, 2018, is set to expire on July 29, 2020.

Background:


The 25% safeguard duty, announced on July 30, 2018, was imposed on solar cell and module imports from China and Malaysia, to protect domestic cell and module manufacturers. The duty was set at 25% for the first year, followed by a phased down approach for the second year, with the rate reduced by 5% every six months until it ends on July 31, 2020.

The Directorate General of Trade Remedies initiated a review investigation in March 2020 to see if there was a need to extend the safeguard duty beyond its deadline following an application filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA). They sought for the duty to be extended by another four years. The domestic manufacturers filing the petition had provided import data released by the Department of Commerce from 2014-15 to 2019-20 (up to September 2019) for this investigation.

Mercom has previously reported that solar developers were struggling to get reimbursed for additional expenses that were incurred as a result of the duty imposition. They said that it has adversely affected their business, and consequently, the pace of project development in the country.

The domestic solar module manufacturers also expressed their discontent months after the safeguard duty imposition. They stated that the policy had failed to achieve the desired objectives of protecting domestic manufacturers from a sudden surge of imports since the safeguard duty was imposed for only two years, and the implementation period of utility-scale solar projects is 18 to 24 months.

Earlier in May, the DGTR extended the deadline for filing responses to a questionnaire investigating the continued imposition of the duty because of the nationwide lockdown.