EU agrees on duties on solar panels from China
BRUSSELS - Reuters
The European Union has agreed on heavy anti-dumping tariffs of around 47 percent on imports of Chinese solar panels. AFP photoThe European Commission agreed to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China in a move to guard against what it sees as dumping of cheap goods in Europe, prompting a cautious response from Beijing which called for further dialogue.
EU commissioners backed EU Trade Chief Karel De Gucht’s proposal to levy the provisional duties by June 6 and make Chinese solar exports less attractive, two officials said.
The investigation into accusations of dumping is the biggest the commission has launched, but Brussels is trying to tread a careful path, knowing it needs China, the EU’s second largest trading partner, to help the bloc pull out from recession.
China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Yi Xiaozhun, called the decision a mistake although he declined to comment on any possible retaliation.
“It will send the wrong message to the world that protectionism is coming,” Yi told Reuters in Geneva on May 8.
45 percent price gap
Chinese solar panel production quadrupled between 2009 and 2011 to more than the entire global demand. EU producers say Chinese companies have captured more than 80 percent of the European market from almost zero a few years ago, exporting 21 billion euros ($27 billion) to the European Union in 2011.As a result, Chinese-made panels are as much as 45 percent cheaper than those made in Europe, industry executives say.Europe accounted for half of the global market in 2012, which was worth $77 billion, according to research firm IHS.
China’s Commerce Ministry yesterday called for dialogue. “We don’t want to see a trade war between the two sides and we hope the EU can cautiously make the ruling decision on China’s solar panel products,” spokesman Yao Jian told reporters. Given that Germany and France are seeking to increase exports to China, De Gucht will try for a negotiated solution with new Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng before an EU deadline in December to cement the levies for up to five years. The EU duties, which will come into effect once the commission publishes the decision in its Official Journal, will be set at an average of 47 percent, officials said.