Germany called to help avoid EU-Sino trade war


The U.S.-Sino trade dispute, and the imposition of interim tariffs and countervailing duties, has been a major feature of the photovoltaic landscape and a major point for debate within the industry over the past 6 months. The prospects for a similar trade war in the EU appear to be becoming less certain in recent days, as signs emerge that German and Chinese government officials may work together to prevent such an outcome.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during a visit to China, indicated that she favored finding a bilateral political solution to any potential trade dispute. Chinese Ministry of Commerce Officials (MOFCOM) have also raised the issue at trade talks.

At the 15th meeting of the Joint Commission of the Sino-German Economic Cooperation, held in Beijing late last week, MOFCOM officials indicated that the Chinese Government is "very concerned" that anti-dumping measures may be imposed in the EU. At the end of July, German manufacturer SolarWorld filed a trade complaint to the EU, under the banner EU ProSun, regarding "unfair competition" from Chinese photovoltaic manufacturers.

MOFCOM’s Gao Hucheng, at the Beijing talks, stated that as SolarWorld is a German company, Germany can play a key role in diffusing the situation. Gao suggested that sanctions against Chinese products would not be in the interest of Germany. He also indicated that 45% of imports into China from Germany was in the form of production equipment. The International Photovoltaic Equipment Association (IPVEA) has criticized the EU trade claim.

In his comments, Gao claimed that "consultation and cooperation" could resolve the situation and that "Germany’s position is key, because German companies filed the case."

German Vice Chancellor and Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Minister Philip Rösler co-chaired the Sino-German talks and also indicated that "negotiation and dialogue" could lead to a resolution of the prospective photovoltaic trade dispute. "The German government and the business community to support the concept of free trade, against the abuse of trade remedy measures," said Rösler.

Rösler also said that Germany was willing to work towards a goal of an annual bilateral trade relationship, between China and Germany, worth US$280 billion by 2015.