Thai solar panel manufacturers win US reprieve

Thai solar panel manufacturers win US reprieve

Thai solar cell exports have a brighter outlook for at least two years after the Biden administration on Monday announced a two-year pause on imposing any new tariffs on such products made in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Pitak Udomwichaiwat, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the US president's decision is good news for Thai solar cell producers and exporters, who will now avoid any new import tariffs until 2024.

According to Commerce Ministry data, Thailand's solar cell exports have expanded continuously, with the key markets comprising the US, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and mainland China.

In 2021, Thailand shipped US$1.07 billion worth of solar cells to the US, making up 49.1% of the country's total solar cell exports.

In the first four months of 2022, solar cell exports to the US tallied $325 million, accounting for 63.5% of total solar cell exports.

On March 28 this year, the US Commerce Department announced that it planned to open inquiries into whether solar cells and modules produced in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, using parts and components from China and exported to the US, were circumventing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders on solar cells and modules from the mainland.

The inquiries were initiated because of Auxin Solar Inc's request to the department.

In a move to defend and protest against a US investigation, the Thai Foreign Trade Department submitted a letter on March 8 to Marisa Lago, the US undersecretary of commerce for international trade, explaining that Thai solar cell products have undergone substantial transformation processes, not minimal operations.

In addition, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit sent another letter on March 29 to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in protest against the US administration's plan to launch a probe.

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