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European Commission to investigate Chinese dumping complaint

On September 6, the European Commission (EC) announced it would launch an investigation into allegations that Chinese firms are dumping below-cost PV products in the EU market.

This news comes in response to a petition filed by EU Prosun back in July that accused Chinese firms of selling below-cost PV panels and components in the EU market. EU Prosun is made up of over 20 EU-based PV manufacturers and led by SolarWorld, the same company that led the effort to get the U.S. to impose tariffs on Chinese PV imports.

According to the EC, EU Prosun’s total output is over one quarter of EU PV panel production. Further, the opponents to the anti-dumping inquiry do not represent more Union production than companies supporting the complaint.

The investigation covers solar panels, solar cells and solar wafers, and is “the most significant anti-dumping complaint the European Commission has received so far,” according to an EC press release, with around €21 billion worth of Chinese PV products exported to the EU in 2011.

Credit: EU ProSun

“Solar energy is a critical component of the EU’s renewable energy mix and has a sunny future,” said Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun. “The EU must stand up to China’s unfair competition and threats of retaliation to save Europe’s growth industries for the future such as green technology and solar manufacturing.”

According to Nitzschke, Chinese firms are dumping panels at a margin of 60 to 80 percent, which has led to “over 20 major European solar manufacturers going out of business already in 2012 alone.”

PV firms worldwide have struggled over the past 18 months, with many firms going bankrupt or restructuring due to alleged unfair Chinese competition. While this investigation of alleged Chinese dumping of solar products is not the first, it is the most potentially damaging, because around 80 percent of all Chinese PV exports go to the EU.

The EC will determine whether dumping has occurred and whether that dumping has led to injury to EU firms. If the Commission decides to impose tariffs, it must first conduct what it calls the “Union interest test” – examining “whether the potential imposition of measures would be overall more costly to the Union economy than the benefit of the measures would be to the complainants.” A preliminary decision will be made by the end of 2013.


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