Mandatory registration for Chinese solar imports to Europe

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The European Commission has initiated the registration of all solar products imported from China with immediate effect.

Importers of solar modules, cells and solar wafers must from now on specify at customs whether the products were imported from China or were produced mainly in China. Importers may have to pay duties on these products if retroactive measures are imposed by the EC.

The commission will announce in early June whether to apply provisional anti-dumping duties on Chinese products and by early August on whether to impose preliminary countervailing levies. The duties would apply for five years. If tariffs are imposed, they can be collected 90 days retroactively, therefore from March 2013.

The current anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations in Brussels follow trade complaints filed by EU ProSun, which claims to represent at least 25% of the European solar industry.

“Dumping is the fundamental problem in the European solar market,” said Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun. “China's daily violations of international trade law destroy thousands of manufacturing jobs in Europe. Tolerating this situation will allow China to create a monopoly in the solar industry, leading to disastrous effect on the European solar industry, including suppliers, equipment manufacturers and thousands of installers. This is because monopolies lead to higher, not lower, prices.”

Till Richter, spokesman for the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy, which opposes trade duties against China, pointed out that registration would make it possible for the EU to impose duties retroactively on these “essential” solar products.

“Although registration, as such, does not mean that the EU will ultimately impose duties, the uncertainty it creates is already having a significant negative effect on the market,” stressed Richter. “This market intervention through registration is unwarranted given that imposing duties retroactively would contravene EU law, which expressly states that duties may be applied retroactively only where imports are sharply rising, which plainly they are not.

“SolarWorld and others wishing to close the EU market may benefit from creating marketplace uncertainty but the vast majority of us along the entire EU solar value chain oppose this illogical step.”

“Registration was positive for the US solar industry and American consumers. Therefore Chinese claims that anti-dumping duties will destroy EU jobs are absurd. After imposing duties on dumped imports from China the number of solar jobs in the United States has increased. This is the best proof that fair competition is better than state-planned economics,” said Nitzschke.

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