EU imposes maximum 42.1% anti-dumping tariff on Chinese solar glass exporters

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The European Commission has today announced the imposition of a maximum anti-dumping tariff of 42.1% on Chinese exporters of solar glass into the European Union.

That provisional figure is the highest possible tariff, with those Chinese companies that cooperated in the EU’s investigations eligible for lower duties. The tariff will take effect tomorrow, Nov. 28, and will run for an initial six months, with the possibility of a five-year extension.

The European Commission launched the investigation in February following a dumping complaint by a European group of solar glass producers – instigated by, but not connected to, an anti-dumping action filed by EU ProSun Glass – that Chinese exporters were selling the glass used in solar panels at below-cost prices. Such a practice is known as dumping, and after launching a parallel investigation in April into Chinese government-backed subsidies for solar panels, the Commission has ruled that Chinese exporters must now pay these provisional dumping tariffs.

During the course of the Commission’s investigation it found that the EU solar glass market had shrunk to just $272 million in value, with Chinese exporters increasing their share of the market from 6.2% in 2009 to nearly 30% in 2012. During that period, a number of European solar glass producers were forced to either cease production or sell off their manufacturing facilities. Today, the Commission estimates the EU solar glass market to be worth just $230 million.

China’s dumping-led expansion into Europe’s solar glass market caused EU producers "material injury" said the report, prompting the European Commission to take action against the worst offenders. China’s Flat Glass Group will be subject to the full 42.1% tariff, while other companies that cooperated with the Commission’s investigation will pay slightly lower rates: Hehe Group will be subject to a 32.3% tariff, and Xinyi Group a 39.3% tariff. At the lower end, Henan Yuhua is subject to a rate of just 17.1%. All other Chinese solar glass companies exporting to the EU will have to pay the full 42.1% tariff.

Ongoing investigation

John Clancy, EU Trade Spokesman, told pv magazine that the investigation will continue, and that all interested parties "will be given the opportunity to comment on the Commission’s provisional findings."

Clancy said: "The imposition of provisional measures does not in any way prejudge the outcome of the continued investigation and any definitive findings. Definitive measures, if any, may be imposed by the Council on the proposal of the Commission no later than six months from the imposition of provisional measures."

Thus far, the Commission’s investigation into China’s dumping practices has been based on the "legal, technical and factual circumstances of the case, and on the evidence collected during the investigation," explained Clancy, adding: "This evidence has demonstrated the existence of dumping from the People’s Republic of China that causes injury to the Union industry, and that the imposition of provisional measures is not against the Union interest.

"The Commission conducted the "Union interest test" to examine whether the potential imposition of measures would be overall more costly to the Union economy than the benefit the measures would be to the Union industry. It is important to underline that the EU is the only WTO Member to systematically carry out this test in its investigations."

The Commission’s parallel anti-subsidy investigation, launched in April, is still ongoing, confirmed Clancy, stating that no conclusions have yet been drawn and that the deadline for any provisional measures the Commission deems necessary is due at the end of January, 2014.

In comparison to the wider anti-subsidy case, the solar glass investigation is a relatively minor issue, affirmed Clancy. "The EU solar glass market is worth an estimated €170 million, while China has exported solar panels and their key components worth around €20 billion to the EU. In terms of market value, compared to solar panels, this is a very small case."

In August, China and the Commission agreed a provisional minimum pricing and volume limit on all Chinese solar panels imported into the EU until the end of 2015.