EU slaps duties on China solar glass

Tensions heat up after Chinese exporters face tariffs of up to 42.1 per cent

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 4:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 4:10am

The European Union imposed tariffs of up to 42.1 per cent on solar glass from China to curb import competition for EU producers, heightening trade tensions over renewable energy.

The duties punish Chinese exporters such as Zhejiang Jiafu Glass and Xinyi PV Products (Anhui) for allegedly selling glass in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping.

The glass is used in solar panels, which are themselves the focus of two European trade probes affecting China.

EU producers suffered "material injury" as a result of dumped imports from China, the European Commission, the 28-nation EU's trade authority in Brussels, said in the Official Journal. The levies, which took effect yesterday, are for six months and may be prolonged for five years.

The duties are the preliminary outcome of an investigation that the commission opened in February after a dumping complaint by a European group on behalf of producers that account for more than a quarter of the production of solar glass in the EU.

The EU solar-glass market was valued at less than €200 million (HK$2.1 billion), the commission said when it opened the inquiry.

Chinese exporters increased their share of the EU solar-glass market to 28.8 per cent last year from 6.2 per cent in 2009, the commission said.

The provisional levies range from 17.1 per cent to 42.1 per cent, depending on the Chinese exporter. Jiafu Glass faces the maximum rate, while Xinyi PV Products is subject to a 39.3 per cent duty.

EU governments, acting on a proposal from the commission, must decide within six months whether to turn the provisional duties into "definitive" levies lasting for five years. The rates for definitive duties can change.

Since last year, the EU has been investigating alleged subsidies to Chinese solar-panel makers and alleged dumping by them in the bloc's biggest trade dispute of its kind.

In August, the commission reached a provisional agreement with China that fixed a minimum price and a volume limit on EU imports of Chinese solar panels until the end of 2015.