Both camps express disapproval with EU-China deal

Amid the fanfare and media attention that greeted the apparent resolution of the EU-China solar module trade negotiations on Saturday, there have been negative responses from both sides of the dispute in Europe.

The Alliance for Affordable Solar Power (AFASE), the industry group lobbying for the removal of trade tariffs, dismissed the reported settlement terms of a minimum module price of €0.56 per watt (US$0.74/W) and a 7 GW annual cap on the volume of Chinese imports as a settlement that will further damage the European solar industry.

In a press statement released on Saturday afternoon, in the wake of the EU announcement signalling a deal, AFASE called on EU member states to reject the reported compromise conditions "as the increase in price cannot be borne by installers and project developers."

"Since the introduction of the initial duties on June 5, demand has already been decreasing," continued the AFASE statement. "The consequences have been that more European companies have had to file for insolvency, among others Gehrlicher Solar."

Thorsten Preugschas, CEO of Soventix and AFASE chair, said: "Price increases induce a negative trend and have done so in recent months to accelerate the loss of jobs in the value chain. If the agreed-upon minimum price between the EU and China is too high we have to let go of employees in the EU and seek our fortunes outside Europe. There we would have to work with local installers while thousands of EU installers would remain without a job."

The tense used in the release refers to the fact the deal, widely reported as signed and sealed, has yet to be approved by the Commission and EU member states, with the EC’s trade commission refusing to release details of the timeline for the procedure to pv magazine.

From the pro-tariff camp, EU ProSun’s Milan Nitschke was also unavailable for comment to confirm a Reuters report that his organization would challenge the apparent settlement in Luxembourg’s European Court of Justice.

Trade commissioner Karel De Gucht, who, again according to Reuters, thrashed out the deal with his Chinese counterpart on the telephone, will hold a press conference on Monday at 11am, although it is unlikely he will confirm the actual figures agreed upon.

Additional translations by Shamsiah Oettinger.