Extension of EU duties on Chinese solar products is now official

The EU Commission has confirmed it will extend antidumping (AD) and anti-subsidy measures against Chinese solar manufacturers. Results and conclusions of its investigation on the matter were published in the EU Official Journal today. On Wednesday, a spokesperson of the EC had confirmed to pv magazine that the duties would be extended and that the interim review will investigate the gradual mitigation of the antidumping and anti-subsidy measures over the next 18 months.

In its investigation, the EU came to the conclusion that “there is a strong likelihood that the repeal of the anti-dumping measures would lead to the continuation of dumping resulting in the continuation of injury of the Union industry”.

As for the investigation period, Brussels has set AD margins of 23.5% to 31.4%. The EC said that the extension of the duties was mainly due to the high production overcapacities at Chinese PV manufacturers.

According to the European Commission (EC), the aggregate capacity of all Chinese module producers increased from 96.3 GW in 2015 to 108 GW last year. Taking into account that in 2016 approximately 75 GW of new PV power was installed worldwide, the EC has concluded that Chinese solar manufacturers have sought to dispose of this excess production. For this reason, as well as for its size and prices, the EU market is particularly attractive for Chinese companies. All of these factors, the EC stated, were crucial for the extension of the AD measures for a further 18 months, otherwise there would be the danger of increased dumping from Chinese module makers.

The EC has set specific AD duties for some large Chinese PV producers. For example, 44.7% will be applied to Trina Solar modules, while JA Solar, Jinko Solar and Yingli were assigned a duty of 51.5%, 41.2% and 35.5%, respectively. Overall, duties range from 27.3% and 64.9% for Chinese module providers. The majority of Chinese module makers was assigned 53.4%.

As for the anti-subsidy duties, there were also specific duties for the largest companies. These range between 3.5% (Yingli) and 11.5% (LDK Solar) and are valid for all Chinese producers involved in the investigation.
The duties will be applied to those companies that were excluded or withdrew from the undertaking imposing a Minimum Import Price (MIP), which since the beginning of this year is of €0.46 per W for modules and of €0.23 per W for cells. The duties must be paid only for modules and cells manufactured in China or for modules assembled with cells produced in China.

Furthermore, the EU has published inits Official Journal the notice of initiation of a partial interim review of the AD and anti-subsidy measures. This review is intended to monitor the level of the duties and the minimum import prices. The Commission specified that the mechanism for the minimum import price (MIP) will be reviewed and changed.

On the one hand, several Chinese manufacturers have already withdrawn from the MIP undertaking or were excluded for violations. As a result, the EU intends to examine if the measures are still applicable.

“The experience on the implementation of the undertaking with a MIP, that was set under economic circumstances which have evolved in the past three years, points to the need to reconsider the form of the measures,” stated the EC in its document. “Therefore,” added the EC, “it appears appropriate to examine whether the form of the measures remains the most appropriate. The prima facie evidence suggests that both the anti-dumping and countervailing measures may reflect the changed circumstances more appropriately by taking the form of a variable duty, based on a MIP for all imports of the product under review. This means that all imports with a declared value at or above the MIP would no longer be subject to duties. Such variable MIP would be regularly adjusted to reflect further technological development and efficiency gains in the solar sector.”

The EU said the investigation period will span between 2014 and 2016. The result of the interim review will be published within six to nine months.

Whether the AD and anti-subsidy duties will be reduced to zero over the 18-month extension period or reduced only marginally will likely be the next battlefront for the parties involved in the trade dispute, namely the Solar Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and EU ProSun. While this will be determined by the partial interim investigation, there will likely be pressures exerted on the EC by both sides.

Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has reacted to the extension of the duties with an official press release. The Ministry said it had expected the termination of the duties. Wang Hejun, the head of the MOC trade remedy and investigation bureau, added he hopes that the interim review will lead to the cancellation of the duties ahead of schedule.

EU ProSun first launched an antidumping complaint with the EC in July 2012. Provisional duties were first applied in May 2013.

Translated by Emiliano Bellini. Edited and additional reporting by Jonathan Gifford.