EC nearing decision on China solar pricing index changes

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The European Commission is expected shortly to reject a request to exclude Chinese prices from the benchmarking index used to set the price at which Chinese cells and modules must be sold in the EU.

Earlier this year SolarWorld-led body EU ProSun asked the commission to consider removing Chinese prices from the Bloomberg index used to determine the minimum import price (MIP) imposed on Chinese cell and module manufacturers.

The MIP, currently set at €0.56, is the agreed minimum price at which Chinese manufacturers have agreed to sell their products in the EU to avoid paying punitive import duties imposed by the commission in 2013 at the behest of ProSun.

The review requested by ProSun in May centred around allegations that increase in Chinese firms registering products with the Bloomberg index was pushing down spot prices and therefore the MIP.

Speaking at the Solar Energy UK show in Birmingham today, James Watson, CEO of trade body SolarPower Europe, which is lobbying for the removal of the import duties on Chinese products, explained that if Chinese prices were removed from the index, the price per watt of Chinese products in the EU would “go up quite considerably”.

“If this interim review is successful the Chinese price will be removed and the minimum import price would rise by some estimates to 65-70 euro cents per watt. That would be the minimum import price the Chinese modules would be able to come in at. It’s a very important issue therefore and we have indeed taken a submission to request the European Commission not to change the way they actually calculate the minimum import price,” Watson said.

He added that a decision on the review was expected “any day now” and “we expect to hear good news on that”.

“I can’t confirm anything because it hasn’t been formally said. But we are expecting the MIP, at least in terms of the way the Bloomberg index is used, to stay the same,” Watson said.

The commission is also currently deliberating two other aspects of the trade case between Europe in China – the request by EU ProSun for review of the scheduled expiry of the duties regime in December and a so-called circumvention inquiry focused on the alleged trans-shipping of products by Chinese companies through Taiwan and Malaysia.

If it upholds the request for an expiry review, current duties and the MIP will remain in place for an expected 15 months while the review is carried out.

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