Berlin, Beijing resolve polysilicon dispute


China will not raise punitive tariffs on imports of polysilicon from the European Union.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics on Monday confirmed a report by German financial daily Handelsblatt that German economics minister Philipp Rösler and Chinese minister of commerce Gao Hucheng had reached a settlement on the issue.

Although the industry had expected a retaliatory move by China to slap European imports, namely polysilicon, with similar duties, news that Berlin and Beijing have reached an agreement could be seen as a first step towards a resolution of the trade dispute that has acerbated the sharp downturn in Europe’s PV industry.

An industry source close to the ongoing negotiations between the EU and China told pv magazine that the German-Chinese agreement was a sign of progress in the trade row.

In June, the European Commission approved a phased introduction of punitive anti-dumping tariffs of 11.8% on Chinese PV imports to Europe despite loud opposition by a majority of EU member states and much of the European PV industry.

China has been considering imposing duties on polysilicon from Europe and the U.S. for months.

China’s Ministry of Commerce launched an investigation into European imports of solar grade polysilicon late last year, just weeks after the European Commission – at the behest of the SolarWorld-led lobby group EU ProSun – began its inquiry into alleged anti-dumping practices by Chinese manufacturers.

The industry insider said the deal between Rösler and Gao increases the pressure on EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and the EU to find a quick settlement to the EU-China dispute, otherwise China could seek to cooperate with individual EU member states, as it is doing with Germany.

The new agreement also demonstrates that China has reached out towards Germany – Europe’s biggest polysilicon producer, the source said. German chemical giant and leading polysilicon producer Wacker Chemie would have been hit particularly hard if Beijing had ruled in favor of the tariffs.

The German government, however, has been adamant in its call for an amicable resolution to the ongoing anti-dumping dispute between the EU and China.

While China appears ready to compromise with Germany, the country has refused to similarly reach out to EU countries that support the anti-dumping duties on Chinese products, such as France, which may soon see its wine hit with import tariffs in China.

China has also resisted ending its investigation into anti-dumping practices by U.S. polysilicon producers, such as Hemlock Semiconductor Corp.