EU and China settle solar trade dispute to dissatisfaction of all.

FT: The deal will allow Chinese companies to export to the EU up to 7 gigawatts per year of solar products without paying duties, provided that the price is no less than 56 cents per watt.“Any products sold above the quota or below that minimum price will be hit with anti-dumping duties rising to an average of 47 per cent from August 6. The minimum price – the most contentious issue in the negotiations – is in line with recent averages for Chinese producers. It is well below the 80 cents or more the European solar manufacturers that filed the original complaint had deemed reasonable, based on the provisional findings of an anti-dumping investigation by the European Commission.” This was the largest ever EU investigation into dumping.
“….EU ProSun, which represents European manufacturers said the terms of the settlement were not consistent with EU trade law, and that it would be “a logical step” to challenge it at the general court in Luxembourg.” Milan Nitzschke, the group’s president: “This agreement is not a solution but a capitulation. Under tremendous Chinese pressure the EU commission decided to sell the European solar industry to China.”
Solar Industry magazine: “According to the EU, price undertakings are an alternative form of trade-defense measures allowable under its laws and those of the World Trade Organization, where a duty on imports is replaced by a mechanism based on a minimum import price. The EU says exports from Chinese companies participating in the price undertaking would be subject to its mechanism and would be exempt from the anti-dumping duties. Those companies that do not participate would be subject to the duties as previously scheduled.
The exact terms of the price undertaking were withheld pending adoption by the European Commission (EC). However, by definition they must remove the effects of injurious dumping. The EC is expected to take up the issue Aug. 2.
Despite the characterization of the agreement as “amicable” and “equitable,” parties on both sides of the tariff debate were swift to voice their opposition.
EU ProSun, a European solar manufacturing association that supports the tariff regime, has moved to file a lawsuit in the EU General Court in Luxembourg to stop the agreement before the EC has a chance to enact it.
“The agreement between the European Commission and China is contrary in every respect to European law,” says EU ProSun President Milan Nitzschke in a statement. “The agreement endangers the very existence of the European solar industry, which has already lost 15,000 jobs due to Chinese dumping and illegal Chinese state subsidies, and now is at risk of losing remaining producers in Europe.”
On the other hand, the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), a trade association of installers and project developers opposed to import duties on Chinese solar panels, objects to the proposed agreement because the price undertakings would still increase prices.
“We don’t want a price increase as this will contract demand in Europe,” says Denis Gieselaar, CEO of Oskomera Solar Power Solutions and board member of the AFASE. “An agreement based on unreasonable minimum prices would be a complete lose-lose situation, including for European manufacturers, at a time when Europe is so desperately looking to stimulate green jobs creation.”
The U.K.-based Solar Trade Association (STA), which has also opposed tariffs, says it is concerned about the impact of mandatory pricing on solar installations. According to the STA, the proposed import deal would include a cap on the volume of solar imported from China at 7 GW per year. Since the European solar market was approximately 17 GW in 2012, the STA is concerned that Chinese market share under the proposed agreement would satisfy less than half the EU market.
“We urge the U.K. government to amend this proposal by calling for a shorter duration for this deal, fluctuating or lower minimum prices, and allowing for volume growth and cost reductions,” says STA PV Specialist Ray Noble in a statement. “Otherwise, the U.K. policy framework will be increasingly out of kilter with real-world costs. In these circumstances, we need the U.K. government to adjust its solar support framework.”