EU solar inquiry will deal blow to China’s PV manufacturers

March 07, 2012

The European Union (EU) is gearing up to join the US in filing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy moves against imports of Chinese photovoltaic solar panels, according to reports.

Li Zhi, director of the Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports & Exports of the Ministry of Commerce, told the China Daily yesterday that an investigation by the EU is expected “soon.”

"There is a high possibility that the EU will investigate claims that Chinese companies are selling solar cells and modules at unfairly low prices and receiving government subsidies," said Li. "This is, unfortunately, bad news for the Chinese industry," she added

"The EU has accepted the case, but it hasn't made any decision so far," said Li, referring to moves by German panel makers to gather support for an investigation against alleged price dumping by their Chinese counterparts. "But we have readied ourselves for the case."

Late in 2011, the US Commerce Department announced it was conducting an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese solar-panel makers and exporters, responding to a petition by US manufacturers, led by the US arm of SolarWorld AG, one of Germany's largest makers of solar products. Chinese officials have said that the US move is simply trade protectionism.

An EU investigation, if implemented, will deal a huge blow to Chinese manufacturers, said experts.

"If the EU barred Chinese imports the effect would be devastating, especially at a time when the profits of Chinese manufacturers are being squeezed," said Gao Hongling, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance. "To be frank, we are not optimistic about the case."

It is estimated more than 80 percent of China's solar cell-related exports go to the European market. In 2010, shipments of Chinese solar panels reached USD30.5 billion.