China has fired the latest salvo in the mounting international solar trade war by launching anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes into solar-grade polysilicon imports from the EU.

The country’s Ministry of Commerce said the probe would be merged into its ongoing investigations into US and South Korean-made solar products and last for at least a year, with a possible extension to 2014.

It will look at whether European silicon manufacturers were being unfairly subsidised or selling their products at unfairly low prices in foreign markets.

The probe marks the latest step in the escalating row  between China and its trading partners over solar imports and exports.

In September, the EU launched an investigation into possible dumping of solar products by Chinese manufacturers, while in October the US set anti-dumping duties on solar energy modules imported from China, some as high as 250%.

Growing competition in the international solar industry reflects the extent to which governments regard it as an important source of employment.

The increasingly difficult trading conditions have already claimed some high profile scalps, with German manufacturing giant Siemens announcing the dismantling of its solar business and Japan’s Panasonic confirming it would pull a planned expansion of its PV manufacturing plant in Malaysia.


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