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[Module Export Analysis] Trade Wars Cause Below-Expectation Q1 Exports, Emerging Markets Continue Growing

Module exports decreased in Q1 due to trade wars; overseas demand stays consistent

Looking back at February and March, due to trade wars like anti-dumping and safeguard measures in India, a great number of manufacturers adjusted their shipping strategies. In accordance with PV InfoLink’s latest customs data report, China’s module exports to India shrank from 1,196MW in January to 715 MW in February, causing the overall module exports to go down to 2,406 MW, a 25% decline compared to January. Despite being called off in early March, the anti-dumping investigation still affected the exports in March, leading to expected significant reduction in module shipment to India in the month.

In addition to India’s trade wars, the U.S. had difficulties importing modules from China due to the Section 201. Other overseas markets such as Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and UAE, all remained consistent in demand, helping China’s exports in January and February combine for 5.6GW.

Emerging markets grow rapidly; major markets reshuffle

With several years of rapid development, a number of major countries have shrunk in demand due to subsidy reduction and amended policies; to name a few, Japan, the U.K., and Germany. China have been seeing promising demand in recent years domestically, but manufacturers still face serious pressure in inventory management in low seasons, when prices are likely to tumble. As a result, several manufacturers have begun exploring other markets, setting up factories overseas and focusing on emerging countries with fast growing demand thanks to development needs and policy support.

Judging from the chart below, rankings related to China’s module exports have reshuffled in the past two years. Much unlike 2016, South America, Middle East, and other emerging countries with fast development largely increased in demand in 2017, replacing conventional major demanding countries as China’s main targeted markets.

More emerging countries have entered the China module export ranking since the start in 2018, including Argentina, Kazakhstan, Panama and Israel. It is evident that Chinese manufacturers have become quite active in exploring emerging markets.

Among these manufacturers, Jinko have not only acquired the UAE market; emerging markets like Mexico, Brazil, Jordan, Argentina, Panama, El Salvador, and Kazakhstan have also been its export destinations. Canadian Solar also shares a part of the market in UAE. In addition, its module factory in Brazil allows it to have great understanding on the Brazilian market. Other countries also receiving Canadian’s products include Chile, Panama, and Mexico. Targeting the South America region as well, Risen focuses more on Peru and Mexico.

A number of manufacturers previously focusing on domestic demand have recently shifted overseas as well. Astronergy, for example, have become rather active in exploring overseas markets, gaining partnerships in Morocco and Egypt and joining bidding in Jordan. CECEP Solar Energy has also turned overseas, making appearance in the top 20 export manufacturers list with impressive numbers in module exports in February. Following its partnership with an Indian developer for a governmental project, CECEP Solar Energy will continue to expand overseas.

Q2 overall demand greater than expectation; emerging markets continue growing

China’s overall module exports fell below expectation in Q1 due to trade wars. However, as India is unlikely to implement high rates of trading tariffs in the near future, its demand is expected to continue in Q2. Together with the 630 installation boom, the overall demand in Q2 can outgrow expectation.

In recent years, Chinese manufacturers have shifted their focus from stable, or shrinking, markets like Japan and European countries to fast-growing countries in South America, Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. These countries took up nearly a half of China’s overseas markets in 2017. Most emerging markets enjoy full support by policies, or climate and geographical advantages; hence the great potential in PV development. These markets will continue to attract more manufacturers. Countries in Mexico, Brazil, and Middle East, for example, will continue to grow and remain major markets for China’s module exports.

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