EU delays imposing tariffs on Chinese solar panels

European Commission waives its first opportunity to impose provisional duties

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 4:56am

The European Union refrained from imposing preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese solar panels, opting to wait four more months to assess whether such levies were warranted in the biggest EU trade fight of its kind.

The European Commission waived the right to introduce provisional EU duties to counter alleged trade-distorting government aid to Chinese solar-panel manufacturers.

The commission, the 28-nation EU's regulatory arm, will study whether "definitive" anti-subsidy levies should be applied no later than December 8.

Five days ago, the commission approved an agreement with China to curb EU imports of solar panels as part of a parallel probe into below-cost sales, a practice known as dumping.

The accord, which took effect yesterday, sets a minimum price and a volume limit on EU imports of Chinese solar panels until the end of 2015. Chinese manufacturers that take part are being spared provisional EU anti-dumping duties as high as 67.9 per cent.

The European Commission has yet to make public the minimum price, but Bloomberg quoted an unnamed EU trade official as saying that some 7 gigawatts (GW) of panels would be allowed to be sold to the EU at not less than 70 US cents per watt, similar to current prices.

Further exports will be subject to an import tariff averaging 47 per cent.

Consultancy IHS's Germany-based principal solar research analyst, Stefan de Haan, said he expected the EU to refrain from imposing anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese producers who stick to the agreed minimum price and import limit. He added that the EU member nations were likely to approve the Sino-EU solar trade agreement early in December.

But lawsuits might still be launched by industry groups in Europe to demand anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese products, he said.

The renewable-energy dumping and subsidy cases cover EU imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules or panels.