Thursday

16th Aug 2018

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  2. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  3. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again
  4. Genoa in state of emergency following bridge collapse
  5. EU summertime survey closes Thursday
  6. Putin to attend Austrian foreign minister's wedding
  7. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  8. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  2. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  3. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  4. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  5. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  6. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  7. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  8. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us