EPIA urges conclusion to WTO solar trade talks

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Trade body the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has thrown its weight behind efforts to liberalise the global trade in solar products.

In a statement to PV Tech, the body urged a quick conclusion to ongoing negotiations between a number of World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries towards an ‘environmental goods agreement’ that would include PV cells and modules.

EPIA is one of the driving forces behind a concurrent effort to form a global solar trade body. Earlier in the summer the body’s president Oliver Schafer told PV Tech one purpose of the body would be to represent the global industry at WTO and other international talks.

Schäfer said of the WTO negotiations: “These current negotiations present a great opportunity for tariffs on solar products to be significantly reduced. This would undoubtedly spur growth in the solar industry across the world.

“Trade liberalisation would enable a price reduction of environmental goods, including solar products, increasing the demand and thus stimulating business opportunities for solar companies all over the value chain and all over the globe.”

EPIA also said it supported negotiated settlements over punitive trade tariffs as a solution to disputes between individual countries.

Schäfer said: “EPIA believes that where parties raise concerns over trade practices, negotiated agreements to trade disputes between partners are the most effective way of supporting free trade. Mutually agreed settlements are much more efficient than punitive tariff introduction, which can lead to market contraction in solar products. EPIA believes that trade disputes and punitive tariffs are not in the interest of the European solar industry and are not the right way to go for ensuring growth in the solar sector.

Schäfer added that although there was some uncertainty over what would happen when the EU-China price undertaking expires at the end of 2015, “cooperation and dialogue” were the “only viable solution” for the growth of solar in Europe and worldwide.

“Solar electricity is becoming mainstream in many regions of the world, but its huge development potential can only be fully realised if all trade partners work together,” Schäfer concluded.

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