FocusAsia polysilicon under further pressure on market uncertainty

19 July 2012 09:07  [Source: ICIS news]

By Samuel Wong

Polysilicon goes into making of solar cellsSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Polysilicon prices in Asia are expected to fall further in the near-term, as a result of over-supply and weak demand following an unfavourable global economic situation, industry sources said on Thursday.

Spot prices of polysilicon were assessed at $19-22/kg (€16-18/tonne) FOB (Free on board) NE (northeast) Asia on 18 July, down by 62% from the same period a year ago, according to ICIS.

The market environment continues to remain challenging, while market sentiment was further dampened on the looming implementation of anti-dumping duties (ADD) by China on imports from the US and South Korea, market participants said.

“The excess supply of polysilicon in the global markets is already a major worry,” a producer said.

With the addition of the investigation by the Chinese government, it is going to create more market uncertainty and buyers are going to expect further decline in prices, he added.

On 16 July China’s Ministry of Commerce announced it had started an anti-dumping investigation on products from South Korea.

The ministry will be examining how polysilicon products from South Korea harm the industry in China, and will decide whether to impose anti-dumping duty (ADD) on the products from South Korea after the investigation.

Several South Korea-based producers have sought aid from their government, and are currently in discussion to tackle the impending problem, a producer in South Korea said.

“We are preparing a response [to the matter], and are also pushing for support from our government,” another South Korean producer said.

If the ADD on imports of polysilicon products into China were to be implemented, it is going to have a big impact not only on South Korean products, but also US-origin cargoes, he added.

In May, China imported 7,896 tonnes of polysilicon, a 50% year-on-year increase and a 28% rise from April, according to China Customs data.

In a preliminary ruling in March this year, the US Department of Commerce imposed ADD ranging from 31.14-249.96% on imported solar panels from China.

The department is scheduled to make a final ruling on its investigation into Chinese solar products in early October, and the US International Trade Commission is expected to make a final decision on the case in late November.

In China, there is limited market activity, as buying interest remains weak, according to a China-based producer.

“Demand for domestic produced cargoes is still very weak, as imported products are cheaper,” he added.

In China, polysilicon prices on a delivered (DEL) basis declined by 60% from June last year to yuan (CNY) 140,000-160,000/tonne ($21,978-25,118/tonne) in the week ended 18 July this year, ICIS data showed.

Several market participants said they were disappointed that an expected increase in solar cell demand after Japan announced Feed-In-Tariffs (FIT), as the country gears up to use renewable energy in place of nuclear capacity, did not materialise.

The FIT system was supposed to boost demand for solar panels, and leading to cities installing more solar panels, in lieu of development for better energy management system. As a result, the increase in demand would prevent further decline in polysilicon prices, with some producers hopeful that prices will rebound.

“It has been almost 3 weeks since the FIT came into effect, but it is not having that much of an impact on the markets as we thought it should have,” a trader said.

The polysilicon market outlook does not look very bright right now, with little hope of a rebound in the near-term, market participants said.

($1 = €0.81 / $1 = CNY6.37)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

Request a free ICIS sample report for the latest prices and developments in the Asian petrochemical markets


By: Samuel Wong



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