Sunday

20th Sep 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

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.

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.

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. Belarus president puts army on EU borders
  2. US: Lebanese group hoarding explosives in EU states
  3. Russia loses EU sanctions appeal
  4. UK guidelines explain Brexit treaty-violation plan
  5. Over 10,000 corona cases a day in France
  6. Greek police move Moria refugees following fire
  7. WHO warns Europe not to cut 14-day quarantine period
  8. MEPs urge EU Council to 'finally' protect rights in Poland

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Commissioner: No one will like new EU migration pact
  2. Buying an EU passport 'no use for evading sanctions'
  3. MEPs call for first-ever EU law on Romani inclusion
  4. EU to help draft Libya's strategy on border security
  5. Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal
  6. Ylva Johansson on Migration and Drama Queens
  7. Does Erdoğan's long arm now reach Belgian universities?
  8. Biden threatens UK trade deal over Brexit shambles

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us