EC rejects calls to replace MIP pricing benchmark

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The European Commission has rejected a request by EU ProSun to replace the pricing benchmark used to determine the minimum import price applied to Chinese solar products sold in the EU.

ProSun, the chief antagonist in long-running trade dispute between Europe and China, had been seeking to have the Bloomberg index changed because it claimed it did not accurately reflect the development of module pricing in recent years.

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The body, led by German manufacturer SolarWorld, alleged that an increase in Chinese firms registering products with the Bloomberg index was pushing down spot prices and therefore the MIP.

But the commission said it was satisfied the benchmark remained representative of worldwide module pricing trends.

Although it noted that Chinese prices on the index were lower than the international average, their average has fallen no faster than the international average, the commission said.

“The existing benchmark therefore still fulfils its objective as set out in the measures in force. The Commission therefore intends to terminate this review,” a commission document on the case concluded.

“The Commission's explanation is absurd,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun and vice president at SolarWorld. “It is a statistical principle that one should not change the sample composition when considering an index.

“As a result, the Commission's proposal only shows that it is time to finally find a reasonable adjustment rule for the MIP and to get away from the link to the Bloomberg index. The development of the MIP has to take into account the real technical and cost developments, not a non-representative index,” said Nitzschke adding that reliable and predictable means of informing the MIP was required instead.

Efforts by PV Tech to obtain the method of calculation of the MIP in 2014 were blocked by the EC, which refused to satisfy a freedom of information request and rejected an appeal.

The ruling will come as a boost to parties seeking to have all trade measures on Chinese imports into Europe thrown out when the commission decides whether or not to review their scheduled expiry at the end of this year. The commission has until December to decide whether or not it will instigate a review, which would mean current measures remain in force for up to 15 months.  

James Watson, chief executive of trade body SolarPower Europe, said: “The decision by the European Commission is a step in the right direction. We hope this sensible approach will also apply to the duties and price undertaking due to expire in December 2015.”

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