Fresh allegations against Chinese PV firms threaten EU price deal

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Chinese solar companies are violating a settlement between the European Commission and Chinese government by selling products in the EU below a minimum agreed price, it has been alleged.

European solar representative body, EU ProSun, said today it had submitted over 1,000 pages of documentation to the EC’s trade directorate detailing apparent proposals by Chinese manufacturers to sell at below agreed prices.

Last year, Chinese companies avoided paying duties on imports into the EU by agreeing to sell their products at prices no lower than a minimum price, which at the time was set at €0.56/watt.

ProSun, set up by German PV manufacturer, SolarWorld, and the chief agitator behind the claims against Chinese manufacturers that led to the original EU inquiry, has always contested the agreement and now maintains that Chinese companies are “neither paying duties, nor observing the minimum price agreement”.

“EU trade rules are being systematically violated by Chinese manufacturers,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun and also vice president of SolarWorld.

“Not one Chinese manufacturer seems to follow the agreed minimum prices for imports into the EU. Dumped Chinese solar products continue to flood the EU market, destroying European industry and jobs. The commission must act fast to stop these violations and implement sanctions.”

A statement released today by EU ProSun does not name any specific companies, but details 1,500 instances of Chinese firms allegedly seeking to circumvent the rules.

“Chinese tricks range from kickback payments camouflaged as ‘marketing grants’, to false product shipments massively under-declaring the quantities actually imported into the EU. It is like a Chinese fish market – anyone who thinks the price is not low enough simply gets another crate of solar modules for free!” Nitzschke said.

EU ProSun also alleges that the “majority” of Chinese companies use “shady middlemen” in deals, who work as a “buffer” between the Chinese companies and the European authorities.

ProSun said the whole price undertaking would now need to be reviewed in the light of its allegations.

“The minimum price agreement that the European Commission negotiated with China is unworkable. There is still no end in sight for Chinese dumping and the EU must impose duties across the board in the face of such illegal and flagrant trade violations,” Nitzschke said.

A spokesman for the commission told the Wall Street Journal the evidence would be scrutinised and could lead to the withdrawal of the agreement.

The ProSun allegations come only a day after the US government announced new preliminary anti-subsidy duties on Chinese solar imports in America. The ruling was made following a petition by the US of international manufacturer SolarWorld.

PV Tech will report further detail of this story as it emerges.

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