EU trade case: Short-term compromise becomes evident


There is obvious development in the negotiation process towards the settlement of the EU-China trade dispute over Chinese solar wafers, cells and modules coming into the EU. "We are doing everything as quickly as possible to find a solution with China," Helene Banner, EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht’s press spokesperson told pv magazine. An EU delegation has been in Beijing for three weeks to move matters along. The settlement efforts will continue into next week until the summer break starts in Brussels. Industry insiders have told pv magazine that they do expect a short-term agreement to be reached in the EU this month.

What would be crucial to see is if an agreement on minimum export prices from China will be reached in the near future. Last week it came to light that Chinese negotiators had submitted a minimum export price of €0.50/Watt for Chinese modules into the EU. This was confirmed today by Reuters as well with reference to a report by Shanghai Securities News. The spokesperson was unable to comment to pv magazine on whether the EU is for or against the proposal from the Chinese side. The EU delegation had also proposed a minimum import price for Chinese modules coming into the EU last week. This was pegged higher at €0.65/Watt.

No official statement was also made with regards to Beijing’s proposal of a 10 GW annual export volume cap as mentioned in Reuters. The fact is, as industry insiders told pv magazine, that such a cap would have minimal impact on the market as the figure already corresponds to the shrinking market status quo.

Last year Chinese modules in the EU encompassed 12 GW. This year the import of Chinese modules into the EU is expected to fall below 10 GW anyway due to the increasing supply into growing international markets like Japan as well as within the booming domestic Chinese market itself as industry insiders explained to pv magazine. Hence China’s 10 GW export cap proposal is said to be more of a tactic to put pressure on de Gucht to find a compromise solution.

There is still time up to August, 5. Thereafter a higher anti-dumping duty of 67.9% comes into force temporarily until early December. Then the EU member states will have to decide on the trade dispute.

EU ProSun’s Milan Nitzschke told pv magazine however that the Chinese proposal is "not acceptable". Nitzschke finds the €0.50/W proposal lower than the average current price for Chinese modules and agreed 10 GW is what will be installed in the EU anyway. He added that the EU has already met China halfway with the two-month grace period and up to now China has been blocking any compromise.

Translated and edited by Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger