China dismayed by EU proposals to extend solar trade duties

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China has this week expressed its disappointment that the European Commission (EC) is proposing to extend tariffs on solar components and cells coming into the EU from China for an additional two years.

Wang Hejun, who represents China’s Ministry of Commerce, is quoted by Reuters as stating: “The measures that the European Commission takes not only damage the interests of Chinese enterprises, but also harm the long-term interests of the EU.”

Hejun, who is the chief of Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, urged the EC to “completely terminate the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on Chinese solar products as soon as possible”, adding that more cooperation is required by both Chinese and European authorities to reach a more amicable solution.

Earlier this week, in documents seen by pv magazine, the Commission put forward a recommendation for the extension of the trade duties, which were introduced in 2013. The current regime was due to expire in March next year, but it now seems likely that they will be maintained for a further two years – a proposal that has once again divided Europe’s solar industry.

SolarPower Europe reacted by urging Member States to “be supportive of European solar” and to back the ending of the trade tariffs, whereas EU ProSun – which was pivotal in bringing about the introduction of the trade measures – effusive in their praise of the Commission’s perceived diligence on this matter.

“European manufacturers today are global leaders in the quality, longevity, efficiency and sustainability of solar cells,” said EU ProSun president Milan Nitzschke in a statement. “The termination of the measures in the context of massive Chinese overcapacities and unfair trade would put the EU industry’s survival in jeopardy. Thousands of highly skilled workers would lose their jobs and the major R&D investments in recent years would be fully lost.”

Amid the division, Nitzschke did extend something of an olive branch in affirming EU ProSun’s support of the Commission’s initiative to start a review of the design of the measures in place; a review that could include making the minimum import price (MIP) more transparent, and allowing Member States to improve monitoring and better discourage violations and circumvention.

To that end, the MIP is set to be lowered from €0.56/w for modules to €0.46/w on January 1, 2017.