The European Union may soon impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels. EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht is meeting his fellow commissioners next week in Brussels where he is expected to recommend that duties should be imposed on Chinese solar panels which are flooding the European market, suggest media reports.
According to the trade office of the European Commission, the EU has time until June 6 to impose provisional duties on the imports if it believes they are justified. The deadline for imposing definitive duties, which would require a vote by member states, is December 5 this year.
The move follows an investigation launched last September by the European Commission into imports of solar panels and their key components including solar cells and solar wafers originating in China. The investigation was launched because EU Pro Sun, an industry association led by Germany’s Solar World, claimed in its complaint lodged on July 25 last year that China is dumping solar panels in the European market. A company is dumping if it is exporting a product to another country at prices lower than the normal value of the product in its own domestic market. The industry body alleged that China is giving cheap loans to its solar manufacturers with intention to dominate solar markets. The trade office of the European Commission says that this is the most significant anti-dumping complaint it has received so far. In 2011, China exported solar panels and their key components worth around €21 billion to the EU.
Europe is the top market for solar products, accounting for 74 per cent of global installations in 2011, according to European Photovoltaic Industry Association.
However, since China is a strong trade partner of the EU, speculations are rife whether the EU would risk upsetting Beijing. Chinese officials have previously warned their EU counterparts that an anti-dumping investigation could invite swift retaliation.
It is not the first time that China’s anti-dumping measures have been questioned. The United States, last year levied duties ranging from 24 per cent to 255 per cent on imports of Chinese crystalline silicon cells and panels.
India also launched an anti-dumping probe against Chinese panels in November last year. The results of the probe are awaited. If proven, India may also levy import duties on Chinese solar panels.