Three Chinese manufacturers to be removed from minimum price agreement

Breaches of the PV module minimum price (MIP) agreement struck between the EU and China are set to lead to removal of three Chinese manufacturers from the arrangement. The European Commission published a document late last week in which it proposed “to withdraw the [MIP] undertaking for three exporting producers.”

If the three Chinese producers are removed from the MIP they would have to pay anti-dumping (AD) duties on solar exports to Europe, which average 47%. This could potentially price the three suppliers out of European markets.

In outlining the case for removal of the manufacturers from the MIP, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade set out the reasons for agreement breaches in a disclosure document. These include the provision of additional “benefits” to customers, breaches of import volumes, use of OEMs outside of the MIP agreement and the sale of products covered by the MIP as a part of solar parks. The breaches are outlined in a disclosure document pv magazine acquired today.

Canadian Solar

The EC has found that Canadian Solar “provided certain benefits to several customers, which were not listed in their quarterly report submitted to the Commission pursuant to the undertaking.” These benefits were effectively deducted from the sales price, the EC reports, breaching the minimum price.

Furthermore, the EC contends, Canadian Solar conducted parallel sales of modules imported before and after the MIP came into effect. “These sales exceeded substantially the marginal percentage limit of total sales to the same customer authorized by the [MIP] undertaking.” The EC additionally concludes that “cross compensation” occurred through the parallel sales of modules covered and not covered by the MIP.

Use of certain OEMs by Canadian Solar is further grounds for breach, according to the EC document. It sets out that, “while limited in scope” Canadian had used an OEM that lies outside of its monitoring scope and it is therefore impracticable for the EC to enforce the MIP in this case, leading to a breach. “Canadian Solar also uses in its business model one… OEM to assemble modules in a third country using cells from another third country,” the EC reports.

ET Solar

The reasons behind the suggested ET Solar breach are set out by the EC as being that it sold products covered by the MIP as a “bundle of goods and services” in the form of solar parks. However, writes the EC, ET Solar did not report the modules sold as a park in quarterly reporting as required by the MIP.

“Furthermore, the sale of complete solar parks constitutes a parallel sale of the products covered and the products and services not covered by the undertaking to the same customers,” the EC report states. It also concludes that cross-compensation can occur when modules are sold as a part of a complete park.

Due to these practices, the EC says the monitoring of the ET’s compliance with the ET impracticable.

ReneSola

The web of OEMs ReneSola employed both within China, the EU and elsewhere is the source of its proposed breach. The EC reports that ReneSola at times imports cells from third parties through related companies in countries not covered by the MIP. It therefore found it impracticable to monitor ReneSola’s MIP compliance.

The EC also noted discrepancies in ReneSola and associated third party importer’s MIP reporting, which could not be rectified. “The Commission analyzed these inconsistencies between ReneSola’s undertaking reports and actual sales transactions and concluded that ReneSola has breached its reporting obligation under the undertaking.”

Due to these breaches and the impracticability of the EC monitoring certain business arrangements of the three manufacturers, it has advised the withdrawal of the companies from the MIP. The EC also concluded that the activities “harmed the relationship of trust with these three exporting producers” on which the MIP is based.

The EC document notes that the withdrawal from the MIP agreement of the three producers “does not automatically lead to the withdrawal of the acceptance of the undertaking for all exporting producers.” It concludes that responsibility for the breaches lays with the manufacturers themselves, and not the Chinese Government or its bodies. It has not revealed “systematic breaches” of the MIP.

Canadian Solar, ET Solar and ReneSola have been given the opportunity to respond to the breaches as they are set out. Third parties may also provide comment.

In June of last year, pro-duty group EU ProSun accused Chinese manufacturers of "massive violation(s)" of the MIP.