European solar associations appeal for end to Chinese trade duties

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Twenty-one solar associations claimed to represent 80% of Europe’s solar industry have called on the European Commission to end punitive trade restrictions on Chinese solar imports.

In an open letter to European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, the associations appealed for an end to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese cell and module imports, as well as the widely discredited minimum import price (MIP) arrangement.

The letter is a response to recent news that, as expected, EU ProSun, the body led by German manufacture SolarWorld, has lodged a request with the commission requesting a review of the expected expiry of the current trade restrictions on Chinese solar imports in December. If the commission accepts that request, the duties and MIP will remain in place for an anticipated 15 months while the commission undertakes an expiry review.

But the associations, representing 19 countries, said all duties and the MIP should be terminated as planned in December and that trade relations with China on cells and modules should be “normalised”.

They pointed out that since the duties and MIP were introduced in 2013, solar deployment in Europe had slowed down significantly, reaching just 7GW last year.

“We believe that we can return to strong European growth in our sector, and begin to deliver on the vision of the commission for renewables in Europe, with the removal of the MIP and the duties in December this year. The MIP and duties are scheduled to end in December 2015 by the European Commission and we can see no reason to continue the MIP or duties at this stage.

“This will boost the whole solar value chain in Europe, including manufacturing of equipment, components, materials, inverters and many other segments of the value chain. Many jobs have been lost in the European solar sector mainly in the installation sector. With more competitive and high quality standards for solar panels available to Europe, the level of installations and the associated jobs will rise.”

James Watson, chief executive of the EU umbrella trade body Solar Power Europe, said: “This unprecedented national associations letter to Commissioner Malmström makes it clear that the European solar sector wants the trade duties removed at the end of 2015 as planned.

'The signatories of this letter represent more than 80% of the solar sector in Europe, sending a clear message that the MIP and duties must be brought to an end as planned this year. We need to move beyond duties and ensure that the highest quality solar products are promoted in the EU.'

In addition to SolarPower Europe, national solar associations from Germany, Italy, Poland, the UK, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, and Slovenia co-signed the letter.

ProSun claims to represent over 25% of the remaining 6GW PV manufacturing base in Europe, giving it the necessary backing to mount its latest trade action against Chinese firms.

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