General support for EU Commission’s interim review of duties on Chinese PV products

Anti-subsidy and countervailing measures could be banded into a variable duty. Credit: EC

Having confirmed the 18-month extension of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on imports of Chinese solar cells and modules, the European Commission (EC) has initiated a partial interim review into what form the punitive duties should take.

The EC noted in its official journal that changes in technological development and efficiency gains in the industry have made a review necessary into whether the minimum import price (MIP) adequately takes into account the effect that these changes have on the import prices of the relevant solar equipment.

The EC went on to cite the large number of manufacturers that had voluntarily left the MIP as a major reason to reassess whether the mechanism is still appropriate.

It also suggested that on current evidence, the most appropriate change would be to band the anti-subsidy and countervailing measures into a variable duty. All imports with a declared value at or above the MIP would then no longer be subject to duties and this variable MIP could be regularly adjusted to reflect progress in technology and efficiency gains, as and when necessary.

The review will cover a full three-year period from 2014-2016 for its evidence, and the Chinese government has also been invited for consultations

James Watson, SolarPower Europe chief executive, said: “Today the European Commission started the first action in the process of phasing out the deeply unpopular trade measures on solar panels and cells. The interim review appears to suggest that the duties and the MIP will be replaced with one single variable MIP that will be regularly adjusted to reflect market developments. It is very important that any new mechanism does reflect the market today, as the former MIP became obsolete based on its failure to reflect the market to even the tiniest degree.”

Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun and VP at SolarWorld told PV Tech: “EU Prosun is supporting the general idea of an interim review of the measures, because we all know that there are a lot of inefficiencies currently in the system.

“A lot of companies opted out from the undertaking. There’s also a lot of violation, a lot of circumvention and so on. […] On the other hand you have a lot of insecurity about where will the minimum price be in three months or so. Therefore there are a lot of reasons to review. Now finally the commission has opened one and that makes perfect sense.”

Nitzschke also called for an MIP which is both “transparent” and “predictable”, so that market participants can make calculations with a minimum price many months in advance.

He added: “I understand the general aim of the interim review as it is described in the official journal today as heading in that direction.”

Discussing the possible application of a variable MIP, he said this should mean that the MIP will only go down, rather than going up, which will help certain stakeholders in the industry to relax. However, he stressed that the MIP should go down only at a “reasonable rate”. Finally, he added that such measures should help customs authorities enforce the MIP better.

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