EC forgoes punitive duties but continues anti-subsidy investigation against Chinese importers

The European Commission said on Wednesday that it would not impose provisional measures in the anti-subsidy investigation of solar panels, cells and wafers originating in China.

The recent agreement on minimum import prices with China appears to have eased the EC’s stance on possible anti-subsidy violations by the country’s exporters.

"As any injury to the Union industry has already been removed, at the preliminary stage, by the provisional anti-dumping measures and the price undertaking on the same products, this decision does not have an impact on the protection of the Union industry against unfair trade practices," the Commission said, adding that the decision not to impose any provisional anti-subsidy measures did not prejudice any subsequent decision that may be taken at "the definitive stage of the proceeding."

The anti-subsidy investigation, launched in November following an EU industry complaint, is running parallel to the EC’s anti-dumping investigation on solar panels.

While the Commission noted that it could decide to impose provisional anti-subsidy duties within a period of nine months, it said it would continue the investigation without provisional measures and work "actively on the case in order to arrive to definitive findings that are due at the end of this year."

The EC is also continuing the parallel anti-dumping investigation after it accepted a price undertaking by the Chinese exporting companies on Aug. 2, which followed the imposition of provisional duties on June 5. Commission experts are now analyzing comments and submissions received as part of investigation after the imposition of provisional measures. The agreement, announced on July 27, is based on the provisional anti-dumping duties and went into effect Aug. 6.

The Commission said it would disclose the findings after finalizing its analyses in both the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases to all interested parties for comments. The EC will issue definitive findings in both investigations after the submitted comments are analyzed and considered. The deadline for the imposition of definitive duties in both cases is Dec. 5.

The EC is also currently investigating anti-dumping and anti-subsidy allegations against imports of solar glass from China, one of the raw materials used in the production of solar panels, but it said that case was independent and not subject to findings in the solar panel cases.

The Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) welcomed the news, saying more provisional duties "would have led to further job losses and uncertainty in the European PV market."

However, the group expressed concern over the recent minimum price agreemement: "The current undertaking agreement of a price floor of €0.56 per watt for 7 GW per year will substantially jeopardize commercial rooftop installations in some member state markets and prevent large ground-mounted installations in many markets, particularly for those with a decreasing feed-in tariff in 2013-2015."