Trina Solar’s manufacturing plant in Rayong city, Thailand, has proven pivotal to the company’s globalization plans in the Asia Pacific since its inauguration on 28 March 2016. The manufacturing facility, located in the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone, has an outstanding annual module assembly capacity of 500MW and solar cell capacity of 700MW. Since its inception, the industrial zone has become a major base for China’s renewable energy market with an accumulated industrial value of US$8 billion.
Equipped with highly efficient service personnel and administrative support, the industrial zone saw Trina Solar’s plant in operation within an impressive 240 days of its application. Coupled with favorable land ownership prices and low employee wages, setting up a large manufacturing base in Thailand is a strategic move on Trina Solar management’s part to strengthen its presence in the region with the widest possible margins. The facility is one of Trina Solar’s seven factories in China and South East Asia—each equipped with highly automated chain systems to optimize and secure procurement, processing and distribution—which allow the company to grow and diversify its production capacities across both established and emerging markets.
Additionally, the plant provides strategic access to numerous sales regions within the ASEAN Free Trade Area due to its strategic location by the Gulf of Thailand, adjacent to Bangkok and Pattaya. Its accessibility to Myanmar’s port by rail means that deliveries to the Middle East, Africa and Europe can also be made efficiently through the Indian Ocean.
The plant in Thailand is just one small component of Trina Solar’s overarching globalization strategy to withstand volatility in individual markets and ensure continuous growth. For instance, Trina Solar pulled through both the European debt crisis and the 2011 “double-counter” investigations launched by Europe and America on China PV imports by having capacity to meet increased domestic demand.
Establishing the Rayong manufacturing facility is also a precautionary measure that could mitigate consequences in the event of international trade disputes and protection measures, such as EU’s Anti-dumping duties (ADDs) and Countervailing duties (CVDs), or America’s protective tariffs on imports which start from 30% in the first year. By utilizing duty-free markets and free-trade agreements, Trina Solar’s Southeast Asian plants in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand can retain and increase exports to Europe and America.
The Rayong facility is backed by a US$143 million financial agreement with Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and China Min Sheng Bank (CMBC). This is the first time that SCB is financing a solar energy project, a clear demonstration of their confidence in Trina Solar’s capabilities. CMBC has also spoken favorably of this agreement, citing it as a starting point for cooperation between international financial institutions and Chinese enterprises.
Despite the successful financial partnership and plant operations, Trina Solar’s Executive Vice President Yin Rongfang urges companies that invest in Southeast Asian markets to not rest on their laurels and to continuously refine their means of production. “The completion of building the manufacturing base is not the end but only a new beginning,” said Mr Yin. “Enterprises need to think of how to operate more efficiently and acquire more competitive products.”
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