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EU imposes anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels

2013-06-05 07:45 Xinhua     Web Editor: qindexing comment

The European Union (EU) trade commissioner Karel De Gucht announced Tuesday that the EU has decided to impose provisional anti-dumping duties on imports of solar panels, cells and wafers from China.

EU imports of Chinese solar products would be subject to a punitive duty of 11.8 percent from June 6 to Aug. 6, from when on, the duty will be raised to 47.6 percent, De Gucht said at a press conference.

"The decision follows a thorough and serious investigation and extended contacts with market players. As the market for the imports of solar panels in the EU is very large, it is important for this duty not to disrupt it," he said.

The EU reiterated that in order to "ensure the stability of supply of solar panels in the short term," the decision was made in two steps in order to cater to "exceptional circumstances." One week ago, 18 EU member states voted against a provisional tariff.

In a written statement, the European Commission reiterates its readiness to pursue discussions with Chinese exporters and with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to find a solution so that provisional duties can be suspended.

The Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) on Tuesday issued a petition to De Gucht appealing to halt the tariff. "The EU Commission's proposed import tariffs on solar panels directly harm the EU's fight against climate change," the petition letter read.

"They will make solar energy, a major tool in combating climate change, more expensive than dirty coal or nuclear," it added.

After the EU announced its decision, AFASE said it "regrets the Commission's decision to ignore the considered positions of 18 out of 27 member states voting against duties, based on all the facts available to them."

Even though the Commission has set the preliminary duties lower than expected for the initial two months, AFASE stressed in a statement that "any level of tariffs will seriously damage the European solar industry."

The decision to impose duties was taken despite warnings from hundreds of European solar companies, 15 European photovoltaic (PV) associations, various trade associations, such as the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and the German Federation of Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA), the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) as well as many experts.

All of them have spoken out publicly against duties, arguing that these will harm not only the European solar industry, but the European economy as a whole.

Thorsten Preugschas, CEO of German Soventix GmbH and Chairman of AFASE, sounded alarm against the decision.

"The current market development leaves no room for price increases. Therefore, duties of 11.8 percent will put a halt to most of the PV projects in the EU and cause severe damage to the European solar value chain," he said.

Jodie Roussell, director of public affairs, Europe at Trina Solar, told Xinhua that a tariff, even as low as 11.8 percent, would harm both Chinese manufactures and European companies. "One of our clients in Germany made an assessment showing a tariff rate of 15 percent would probably kill 85 percent of their business," said Roussell.

De Gucht stated that the action would "open the door to negotiate an amicable solution through 'price-undertakings' within a short period of time." Roussell welcomed the gesture but said an amicable solution would need "sincerity on both sides."

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