Renewables MMI®: Chinese Silicon Imports Get a Reprieve from the WTO

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On Monday the World Trade Organization (WTO) found the US guilty of violating global trade rules when it imposed punitive import duties in 2012 on a number of Chinese products. Steel was involved in the bulk of the decisions, but one area not receiving attention was silicon crystalline photovoltaic solar panels.

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The bulk of the domestic solar community is in favor of the decision, according to,  and against protectionist tariffs, however SolarWorld, a German company whose US subsidiary is the largest manufacturer of solar panels here, wants more punitive duties. The decision is also only one in a string of important trade disputes impacting the industry. The  Department of Commerce recently imposed new tariffs on solar modules from China ranging from 18.56 to 35.21 percent. Research from Greentech Media found that these tariffs could lead to an average overall price increase of 14 percent on modules shipped into the US by Chinese suppliers. Of course, China gets most of its silicon from the Western US, so China could drive prices up further by imposing its own import duties on raw silicon.

Prices for Chinese cobalt cathodes saw the biggest increase on the weekly Renewables MMI® this week, rising 5.7 percent and settling at CNY 222,000 ($35,773) per metric ton. Closing out the third week of declining prices, the price of Chinese steel plate dropped by 0.3 percent, finishing at CNY 3,600 ($580.10) per metric ton. Following a steady week, prices for silicon closed flat at CNY 14,250 ($2,296) per metric ton. Neodymium remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 405,000 ($65,261) per metric ton.

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At JPY 76,000 ($748.50) per metric ton, the price of Japanese steel plate did not change since the previous week. Korean steel plate traded sideways last week, hovering around KRW 900,000 ($889.06) per metric ton. At CNY 3,600 ($580.10) per metric ton, the price of Chinese steel plate finished the week down 0.3 percent. Prices for US steel plate remained constant, closing the week at $866.00 per short ton.

US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) continues hovering around $3,112 per short ton for the fifth day in a row.

The Renewables MMI® collects and weights 8 metal price points used extensively within the renewable energy industry to provide a unique view into renewable energy metal price trends. For more information on the Renewables MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

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