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EU, U.S. & China move to resolve solar trade dispute

The EU, U.S. and China have announced a collaborative effort to resolve the ongoing trade dispute over low-priced Chinese solar panels.

After discussions last week in Shanghai, the vice president of trade and competitiveness for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)  John Smirnow says “it’s time for everyone to work together toward a fair resolution of these cases.”

Smirnow said what many groups across the countries involved have been saying since the allegations of unfair Chinese government subsidies began – that “disputes within one segment of the industry affect the entire solar supply chain” and “cause a ripple effect throughout the economies of the United States, Asia and Europe.”


Photo Credit: Jianan Yu, Reuters

Photo Credit: Jianan Yu, Reuters


Industry groups from the relevant countries have agreed to a joint policy position, the Shanghai Solar Declaration, to encourage negotiations outside of the World Trade Organisation dispute resolution process.

Since 2011, solar panel manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe have claimed that Chinese companies are not only benefitting from unfair subsidies, but also selling panels at below-cost prices as a way to quickly gain market share around the world.

Proponents of this argument point to the massive drop in solar panel prices and increase in China’s market share over a short period of less than five years.

As a result, to protect domestic PV panel producers, the U.S. has imposed steep tariffs on Chinese solar goods entering the country – and the EU is about to do the same.

But according to the New York Times, this Shanghai Solar Declaration might get rid of the tariffs, but it won’t make solar panels cheaper. Instead, Chinese companies would have to “charge more while limiting the total number of solar panels they could ship,” leading to a higher price for solar panels worldwide.

Officials from all countries appear to be tight-lipped, and any further developments will take months.

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