July 27th, 2012 | Global Times Risk of trade war looms as solar panel dispute heads to EU
Chinese solar panel manufacturers on Thursday urged the EU to carefully consider an anti-dumping complaint against Chinese solar panel makers by European competitors, while calling on the government to enter into talks with the EU to prevent the dispute from escalating into a trade war.
In a joint statement released Thursday, Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co, Suntech Power Holdings Co, Trina Solar Ltd and Canadian Solar Inc, four major Chinese solar panel manufacturers, said the Chinese solar industry would suffer a fatal blow if the EU were to follow the precedent of the US and launch an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar products.
“The Chinese solar industry does not receive the alleged illegal subsidies or engage in dumping … The investigation would also trigger a whole-scale trade war between China and the EU, which would cause huge losses to both parties,” the statement said.
The four companies also called on the Chinese government to enter into high-level dialogue with the EU to block the initiation of the investigation by the EU.
Solarworld AG, Germany’s biggest maker of solar panels, filed a complaint with the EU on Wednesday, accusing Chinese manufacturers of selling their products below market value in Europe, the world’s largest solar market, Reuters reported Thursday.
Solarworld’s US unit has already filed a similar complaint in the US, resulting in preliminary antidumping duties of 31 percent to 250 percent on solar panel imports from China after the US Department of Commerce ruled in May that Chinese manufacturers had dumped their products.
“The latest case is similar to the one filed in the US, but the impact will be bigger if the EU decides to launch the probe since the EU is the largest importer of China’s solar product exports,” Gao Hongling, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance (CPIA), told the Global Times.
In 2011, close to 60 percent of China’s total solar product exports, which were worth $35.8 billion, were shipped to the EU, the four companies said in the statement. The percentage was higher in previous years.
If the duties are imposed on Chinese solar panels, Yingli and other Chinese makers will be forced to move their production base from China to countries not subject to anti-dumping duties such as Vietnam and Africa to reduce costs, Wang Yiyu, Yingli’s chief strategy officer told reporters Thursday.
“Protectionist measures would increase the cost of solar energy in Europe and delay the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Tariffs would also destroy thousands of jobs in the European solar industry,” Jerry Stokes, President of Suntech Europe, said Wednesday.
The EU solar industry provides employment for around 300,000 people and more than 80 percent are employed in upstream and downstream industries such as raw material suppliers, equipment manufacturing and system design, according to statistics from Suntech Europe.
There will be 45 days in which the EU can decide whether to accept the case and launch the probe, after it receives the complaint from the European companies, Yingli’s general counsel Arthur Chen told the Global Times.
“But it would be stupid to risk losing 300,000 jobs along the supply chain of the solar industry in Europe to save just 10,000 jobs in the mid-stream of the industry,” Chen said.
By Song Shengxia