Solar Tribune

EU imposes 11.8% tariffs on Chinese solar imports


This week, the European Commission has announced it will impose provisional anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels, cells and wafers imported to the EU.

The decision is a result of nine months of investigations and deliberations by the Commission, and will be finalised in December.

From now until August 6, a tariff of 11.8 percent will apply to Chinese solar imports. Then duty will rise to an average of 47.6 percent, with duties ranging from 37.2 to 67.9 percent. This phased approach is intended to limit disruption caused to the EU market.

“[O]ur action today is an emergency measure to give life-saving oxygen to a business sector in Europe that is suffering badly from this dumping,” said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

“In the run-up to today’s decision certain parties suggested that today’ trade defence measures equal ‘protectionism’. That is simply wrong and misleading,” De Gucht said. “The truth is that our action is about ensuring fair competition and the respect of international trade rules to which both Europe and China have signed up to in the WTO.”

Credit: Yingli Green Energy

Credit: Yingli Green Energy

The EU argues that Chinese solar panels should be sold at a “fair value” that is 88 percent higher than the current selling price, thus making the tariff rate reasonable. But opponents of the measure, from solar companies in the EU and China to environmental groups, say the tariffs will be detrimental in the long term.

“No doubt the coal, oil, nuclear and gas lobbies will be cracking open the champagne as the commission is failing to tackle their continued and detrimental impact on nature and society as well as ignoring sky-rocketing fossil fuel subsidies,” said Stephan Singer, director of Global Energy Policy at the WWF.

“Destroying new clean commercial activities and engaging in a trade war with China on clean energy technology is the last thing we need right now.”

But De Gucht rebutted such arguments, saying that “those arguing that cheap solar panels are good for sustainable energy and the environment must realize that you need to keep the solar panel industry ‘sustainable’ in the first place if you are going to see any benefits over time.”

“Punitive tariffs – no matter at what level – will inevitably lead to higher prices for solar products causing at least the stagnation of the solar industry in Europe,” said Mr. Liansheng Miao , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, one of China’s largest solar manufacturers.

“I would prefer a negotiated solution and quickly,” De Gucht concluded. “But it is the role of Chinese exporters and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to now step forward with a solution that removes the injury to the European solar panel industry.”

These preliminary rates will be in place until December 5, at which point the EU must decide whether to impose anti-dumping duties for five years.

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