top of page

EU-China solar trade dispute talks stall

Despite news that the EU and China were working on a cooperative solution to the current solar trade impasse, fresh reports claim that the two cannot come to an agreement.

European solar manufacturers have accused China of selling solar panels in the EU market at below cost in a bid to gain market share. Recently the EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, announced plans to impose import tariffs of 47 percent on solar panels coming from China.

But according to news reports, 18 EU member states – including Germany and the UK – voted against this provisional measure, with five countries abstaining from the vote and four approving.

“The results of this vote send a strong signal to the European Commission that these duties would do much more damage than good to the European solar industry,” said Paul Barwell, CEO of the UK’s Solar Trade Association.

“If duties are imposed, panel prices will rise across the board, and consumers and installers alike will lose out.”

Nevertheless, the EU Commission can still choose to impose import duties regardless of the views of member states.

Quality inspection station in module assembly at the SolarWorld manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

Quality inspection station in module assembly at the SolarWorld manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

“They (the Chinese) are not going to impress me by putting pressure on member states,” De Gucht said, according to Reuters.

After the meeting, the EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy said that “Commissioner De Gucht also made it very clear to the Vice-Minister that he was aware of the pressure being exerted by China on a number of EU member states which explains why they are positioning themselves as they are in their advisory positions towards the European Commission.”

Clancy underlined the EU Commission’s obligation to undertake the investigation, saying the Commission “does not launch anti-dumping investigations on a whim but on the basis of hard facts when there is clear harm to Europe’s companies and workers from the illegal flooding of its market by under-priced products.”

“Our trade defence actions are about getting ‘trade justice’ for our companies and workers.”

Although the EU says China did not bring any proposals to the table at these latest talks, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) says that a resolution is sought.

“If the EU were to impose provisional antidumping duties on Chinese solar panels…the Chinese government would not sit on the sideline, but would rather take necessary steps to defend its national interest,” says a news item on the MOFCOM website.

“Despite the heightened risk of the China-EU bilateral trade disputes widening and escalating, the Chinese government would nevertheless make a best effort for hope of reaching a consensus and avoiding a trade war, but this would require restraint and cooperation on the EU’s part.”

The European Commission will decide whether to impose provisional tariffs by June 6, and will make a final determination by December of this year.


bottom of page