Call for more Thai solar panel makers
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is encouraging local companies to invest in solar panel manufacturing, currently dominated by Chinese investors in Thailand, to benefit from a two-year tariff exemption for cells exported from Asean to the US.
Last week the Biden administration announced a two-year pause on imposing any new tariffs on such products made in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
The move came after US authorities said in March they would probe whether solar cells and modules produced in these countries, 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 Chinese mainland.
“The tariff exemption will be good for Thailand, at least in the short term,” said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI.
“But in the long term, the situation may change because the US has also announced it will enforce the Defense Production Act to promote domestic production.”
Solar panel imports from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam currently account for more than half of solar panel products in the US. They make up 80% of solar panel products imported to the US.
According to the FTI, there are around 10 solar panel manufacturers in Thailand, mostly from China and Taiwan.
Chinese companies reportedly relocated their production facilities to Thailand to avoid the impact of the US-China trade war.
The federation is worried Thailand may be affected by trade barriers imposed by the US, which wants to promote the use of its locally made products.
Mr Kriengkrai stressed the need for the government to come up with plans to support Thai companies to enable them to produce and export solar panels.
“The government should have more incentives and privilege packages to encourage Thai companies to invest in solar panel manufacturing under the bio-, circular and green scheme,” he said.