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            october 19, 2019

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India drops solar panel anti-dumping duties ahead of Modi-Obama meeting


India has dropped plans for anti-dumping duties on solar panels from the US, China, Taiwan and Malaysia, ahead of a meeting on September 29-30 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama.
An Indian regulatory body had ordered duties on solar panels just before Mr Modi took office, setting duties of between US$0.11 and $0.81 per watt following a 2011 probe.
"We allowed it to lapse," said junior finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Reuters reported.
India and US trade relations have been fraught with disputes over policies and patents. And the solar panel moves have been seen by analysts as a step to smoothing relations with Washington.
Dropping the duty removes one India-US sticking point, but it will upset domestic manufacturers who say rivals benefit from subsidies and sell their products in the domestic market at a lower price.
India imported solar products worth nearly INR60 billion (US$984 million) last year, according to an industry estimate, whereas domestic manufacturers' sales amounted to less than two per cent of that.
Mr Obama sees the India relationship as a counterwieght to China's rising power, calling it "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century". The US plans to increase bilateral trade to $500 billion a year from $100 billion today.
But India is angry about a US Trade Representative's (USTR) threat of sanctions. The USTR said India's limits on pharmaceuticals, its slow patent challenge process and plans to allow more generics have created problems for American innovators.
Ms Sitharaman, the junior finance minister, said new international pharmaceutical research policy would be in place within six months to safeguard India's interests and provide clarity on existing laws. She did not give more details.
The government will also set up a think-tank to advise it on global intellectual property issues, she added.

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