China May Increase LCD Panel Tariff to 8%

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Aug. 15 – China may lift import duties on LCD panels in order to motivate domestic LCD panel manufacturers and attract more foreign direct investors to build production lines in the country, according to a report by Right Site Asia, an online Asian industrial information platform. The tariff rate may jump to 8 percent from the current 5 percent.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced fiscal and policy support for domestic panel production back in 2008 in a bet to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on LCD panel imports from Japan and Taiwan. If the government approves the tariff hike this time, a number of traditional LCD exporters to China will likely lose competitiveness in prices.

However, on the other hand, the tariff increase is expected to largely encourage those enterprises that already have their own production lines in China. Both China’s BOE Technology Group and China Star Optoelectronics Technology have put their fresh 8.5-Generation LCD panel plants into production recently, leading the whole industry to step into a new era where the country’s demand for LCD panels larger than 32 inches is no longer completely dependent on imports.

Bai Weimin, vice chairman of China Video Industry Association, recently expressed his confidence in the future of Chinese LCD panel companies after a major import order worth US$5.5 billion was struck between mainland color TV manufacturers and Taiwanese LCD panel producers. Bai said he believes such orders will be reduced in the future because Chinese enterprises will start to produce more panels by themselves.

It is also hoped that increasing levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) will be introduced to the industry. In fact, several Asian LCD panel giants are already moving. The South Korea-based Samsung Electronics’ 7.5G panel plant in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIL) – the company’s joint venture with the SIL and the Chinese consumer electronics maker TCL – has kicked off construction in May this year, and is expected to boast a monthly capacity of 100,000 glass substrates when it enters mass production in 2013. Another South Korean company, LG Display, also plans to begin construction on an 8.5G plant in Guangzhou at the end of August, while the Taiwan-based AUO is investing in a joint venture to build an 8.5G plant in Kunshan, which will be put into mass production in 2013.

Before China, the European Union has set up the example of using a tariff strategy to attract more FDI into the region’s panel industry. The region’s import duties on LCD panels – which used to be as high as 14 percent – worked effectively to make a large number of LCD monitor suppliers relocate their production lines to the East European countries, but it also incurred trade disputes. The EU had to agree to void LCD monitor tariffs earlier this year, following a trade complaint filed by Taiwan.

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