China silent over polysilicon dumping

China appears to have delayed its preliminary decision on alleged dumping of polysilicon by international manufacturers.

Local reports had suggested the result would be announced today, but a foreign ministry spokesman told a media briefing in Beijing that there is “no exact date” for the investigation outcome to be released.

The news will “probably” be announced in March, according to the 21 Century Business Herald newspaper, citing an informed source. It added that the main reason for the delay was the Chinese New Year holiday, which finished this weekend.

Chinese polysilicon producers claim that low-priced imports have hurt the domestic industry and led to local bankruptcies.

After four of the country’s largest manufacturers lobbied the government for a probe into the imports, Beijing formally announced an investigation into US and South Korean exporters in July, followed by another probe into alleged dumping by European Union producers on 1 November.

The domestic industry is understood to be seeking tariffs of 54% on US imports, 47% on South Korean imports and 11.5% on imports from the European Union.

Since the investigations were announced, imports have surged, with Germany’s Wacker Chemie now taking up 70% of the Chinese market, according to the 21 Century report, which did not cite a source for this statistic.

Polysilicon prices, which hit a record low in December on the world market, are also rising, buoyed in part by expectations that China will impose import duties.

Experts say that in contrast with the goals of the probe, foreign polysilicon makers may benefit from tariffs, which will push up prices and simply divert manufacturing to a third country.

Downstream users such as panel makers, already struggling to generate profits, will be hit hard by the higher prices however.

Yingli, China’s largest panel maker by capacity shipped last year, is currently evaluating options, says Mathew Li, senior investor relations manager.

“We’ll continue to purchase polysilicon from our overseas suppliers. But we’ve also been very active since the second half of last year in testing high quality polysilicon from Chinese producers.”

According to Chinese law, anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations can take up to one year under normal circumstances and can be extended for a further six months if required.