Import duties: further movement in EU-China negotiations

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"Intensive negotiations are still taking place," a source close to the case told pv magazine. A lengthy telephone conversation between EU trade minister Karel de Gucht and the Chinese minister of commerce is scheduled for the end of the week.

In addition, the European Commission is planning to inform EU member states on the state of the negotiations by the end of this week. The Commission has apparently offered China a compromise for a possible settlement of the trade dispute and is now awaiting a response. Earlier this week, German news agency DPA, citing a confidential EU document, reported that the EC had made concessions to China.

The EU has offered to again reduce minimum import prices for crystalline wafers, cells and modules by 15%, according to the news report, although it was not clear on what exactly the reduction is based. Earlier this month pv magazine learned from industry insiders that the EU had made a minimum import price offer of €0.65 per watt for Chinese modules. According to well informed sources, the Chinese proposed a minimum price for imported modules of €0.50 per watt.

It will be interesting to see if concrete figures are put on the table by the end of the week and whether a compromise can be achieved. If there is no agreement by Aug. 5, current provisional import duties on Chinese crystalline wafers, cells and modules of 11.8% will increase to an average of 47.6%.

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Hanwha Q CELLS has made it clear that it is continuing to produce cells and modules at its plant in Thalheim, Germany. Günter Weinberger, CEO of the Freiburg-based Solar-Fabrik, pointed out in a letter to EU commissioner de Gucht that, except for SolarWorld, there would be no significant cell manufacturers in Europe by January 2014 and that duty-free imports would be crucial for the remaining European module manufacturers.

According to Jochen Endle, spokesman of Hanwha Q CELLS Germany, some 200 MW of high-efficiency cells and 120 MW of high-efficiency modules are currently produced in Thalheim yearly. The cells are used mainly in the company’s own modules. In Malaysia, the company manufacturers 900 MW of standard cells, some of which are exported to Europe.

There were still no results announced on Wednesday regarding the ongoing hearing of AFASE’s 30 member companies before the EU Commission in Brussels. pv magazine will promptly report any new developments.

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