The development opportunities and risks and challenges facing the global photovoltaic trade

On July 20, 2023, the Photovoltaic Industry Development Review for the first half of 2023 and the outlook for the second half of the year were discussed at a seminar organized by the China Photovoltaic Industry Association in Xuancheng city, Anhui Province. During the meeting, Zhenfu Wang from the Trade Remedy Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce introduced the development opportunities and risks and challenges facing the global photovoltaic trade.

Zhenfu Wang stated, “In recent years, the global economy has been experiencing a combined situation of reshaping economic rules, restructuring power dynamics, and rebuilding competitive advantages. Insufficient overall demand remains a prominent challenge for the global economic operation, and the normal cycles of major countries industrial and supply chains are frequently interrupted. While the global photovoltaic trade is facing favorable development opportunities, it also encounters unprecedented risks and challenges.”

There are three main areas of risks and challenges. First, there is still a risk of traditional trade remedy measures and tariff barriers. Second, there is an increasing risk of foreign industrial competition and supply chain security. Major overseas photovoltaic markets such as the United States, European Union, and India actively promote policies of localizing manufacturing and increase subsidies and support for their domestic industries. Third, new trade barriers such as human rights and green standards are intensifying. Canada and the European Union have also introduced similar legislation. Some economies, under the guise of addressing climate change, have implemented low-carbon certification and carbon footprint tracking systems. Many companies have indicated that these systems pose issues of transparency at the implementation level and effectively act as trade barriers. Trade barriers will have a significant impact on China’s photovoltaic product such as solar panelsolar energy storage invertersolar energy system exports and disrupt the normal operation of the global photovoltaic supply chain.

Currently, China’s foreign trade in the photovoltaic sector is facing pressure and challenges, but the path is long and challenging.

From a macro perspective, China adheres to opening-up, actively promotes international economic and trade cooperation, and continuously introduces a series of stable foreign trade policies and measures, with comprehensive effects being continuously manifested. In the first half of the year, China achieved a new breakthrough in the scale of foreign trade imports and exports. Additionally, China’s photovoltaic industry has a sound industrial system and comprehensive production capacity. We have confidence in consolidating market share, maintaining the leading position in global photovoltaic trade. With the effective implementation of more pragmatic measures, the vitality of the photovoltaic industry entities will be further enhanced, and we will definitely achieve the goal of promoting stability, quality improvement, and expansion in imports and exports.

From a micro perspective, in the face of a complex and challenging external environment, how can enterprises resolve new and old risks and cope with various challenges? Three key points are discussed: Firstly, it is important to promptly grasp the changes in international economic and trade policies and reduce the impact of trade barriers and unfavorable international trade rules. Secondly, it is necessary to have well-planned medium- to long-term investment and production strategies. Lastly, it is crucial to grasp industry development trends and guide the industrial ecology. It is essential to adhere to technological innovation, focus on industry trends, seize development opportunities, accelerate the exploration of new fields and new tracks, cultivate new competitive advantages, and occupy the high end of the value chain. At the same time, attention should be given to the development of the industry ecosystem, promote the deep integration of innovation chains, industry chains, capital chains, and talent chains, and further deepen cooperation with domestic and international industrial partners. We need to consolidate and maintain the advantages of world-class industrial clusters and inject positive energy into global energy transformation.

On April 25th of this year, the General Office of the State Council issued an opinion on promoting stable foreign trade scale and optimizing the trade structure. This opinion specifically emphasizes the need to properly respond to unreasonable foreign trade restrictions and strengthen the training and guidance for local governments and foreign trade enterprises. Support will be provided to key entities affected by enhancing the effectiveness of the early warning system and legal services mechanisms and assisting companies in actively dealing with unreasonable trade restrictions. The Trade and Economic Division of the Ministry of Commerce will actively implement relevant national policies and arrangements, continue to serve the industry, strengthen coordination and cooperation with associations, and provide support for enterprises in expanding international markets.

The mission of the Chinese photovoltaic manufacturing industry should extend beyond China to the entire world. Contributing China’s strength to global energy transformation towards carbon neutrality is the glorious mission of Chinese photovoltaic enterprises. We believe that all colleagues in the photovoltaic industry will be able to open up new prospects in a changing situation, seek innovation in revitalization, excel in innovative breakthroughs, strengthen coordination and collaboration, continuously enhance competitiveness, actively build a new pattern of photovoltaic trade, and promote the advancement of photovoltaic trade to new heights.