Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

China-EU trade war looms over solar energy industry

China and the EU are facing a trade war after a group of European solar panel producers this week lodged an anti-dumping complaint, sparking immediate threats of retaliation.

The complaint comes from Germany's SolarWorld and a newly formed coalition of some 25 companies, according to spokesperson Milan Nitzschke, most of whom choose to remain anonymous "for fear of repression."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Cheap solar panels from China are distorting the market, EU companies say. (Photo: TREC-UK)

The companies accuse China of giving out “immense subsidies”, Nitzschke said, helping its own industry to gain market share in Europe by selling its products at artificially low prices - a practice known as dumping and illegal under international trade law.

Citing Goldman Sachs, they say China’s share of the EU market for crystalline solar modules has increased from 63 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2011. Ten years ago, that number was close to zero.

“China is not competing,” Nitzschke told EUobserver. “It is breaking the rules.”

An eye for an eye

It did not take long before warnings came from the East of swift retaliation.

China’s four major solar panel producers issued a statement denying the allegations and urging the government to take the “necessary measures to protect our ... interests”.

State-run news agency Xinhua, for its part, on Friday (27 July) left little doubt over what those measures may consist of.

It cited Meng Xiangan, a high official charged with renewable energy, as having said that if the EU decides to start investigations, “China will likely initiate anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes on EU-imported [products]”.

It also cited the country’s ministry of commerce as having said that any “protectionist measures will harm the European solar industry”.

If deemed viable, the complaint may lead to import tariffs on solar panels from China. In May in the US, such action was already taken. In response, China last week launched investigations into possible dumping from the US and South-Korea.

“There is nothing else China can do if the EU follows the precedent of the US and imposes duties on Chinese solar products,” Li Junfeng, another high official, was quoted as having said.

Keeping the lid on

Meanwhile, the European Commission is doing its utmost to keep things quiet.

It now has six weeks to decide on the way forward: to proceed with investigations or not. Until then, it refuses to comment or even to confirm the existence of the complaint.

Yet one spokesperson, Joe Hennon, on Thursday during the executive’s daily press briefing said it had not yet received an official complaint.

His comment was later removed, however, from the commission’s website.

“It was asked for,” said an official from the commission’s audiovisual services who did not want to be named.

Focus

Germany to cut solar energy subsidies

Germany's solar power industry could cool as Berlin plans to cut subsidies in a sector whose energy capacity output has successfully more than doubled the government’s projected target.

Focus

Amid crisis, Europeans flock to learn Chinese

Ever since Europe’s economy began spiralling downwards, a growing number of people from Dublin to Athens is learning the language of opportunity: Chinese.

Focus

The growing pains of the solar industry

The solar industry is in disarray. But, experts say, this is nothing out of the ordinary. It is just going through a painful but necessary process.

Focus

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

News in Brief

  1. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit
  2. EU sets up natural disaster rescue team
  3. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  4. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  5. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  6. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  7. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  8. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  2. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  3. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  4. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  5. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  6. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  7. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  8. Commission warns Italy over high debt level