SNEC 2014: Trade war issues dominate APVIA Solar Leaders Dialogue session

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A key conference session at SNEC 2014, the APVIA Solar Leaders Dialogue session, held a day ahead of the start of the main SNEC exhibition, was dominated by past, present and possible future trade wars against and within the PV industry.

Not surprisingly the topic of trade protectionism was met with industry executives calling for dialogue and co-operation over the issue rather than the rush to initiate legal cases and government channels to impose punitive measures.

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Guiqing Wang, the deputy chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CMME), said on that trade associations can play a positive role in dealing with trade protectionist activities.

His key message was that trade bodies were well positioned to coordinate the complete PV value chain through to end customers to inform and educate governments and agencies on the fuller implications of possible trade wars, which could lead to less action being taken.

Olivier Schaefer, president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, stressed that collaboration from all parties on the business issues being faced was the right approach and not anti-dumping legal cases.

Prof. Dinghuan Shi, counsellor of the China State Council and president of the China Renewable Energy Society, suggested that those issues anti-dumping complaints should full-communicate with the industry first, detailing the issues and risks ahead of seeking investigations and punitive measures.

Karl-Heinz Remmers, CEO of German-based publisher Solarpraxis, pushed for the need of a global PV trade association to tackle protectionist actions globally as the likelihood of more trade wars was possible in new and emerging markets as the PV industry continued to expand and broaden geographically.

Echoing the need for dialogue first, Remmers described the recent anti-dumping case within the EU as “bullshit” as it lacked the basic level of transparency expected of a European authority desperate to show higher levels of democracy.

According to the Solarpraxis CEO, the EU investigation “did a great job of highlighting prejudices already in existence.”

Overall, the PV industry needed to figure out ways to deal with the potential for future global trade wars especially after still standing on the fragile ice after two-years of an industry downturn.

The threat of further trade wars that could embrace other sectors of the PV value chain were highlighted by the Guibiao Zheng, VP of China’s largest PV inverter manufacturer, Sungrow Power Supply. Zheng was concerned that the competitive landscape within the PV inverter sector was characterised by strong, intense and fierce with ramifications for different PV inverter companies based in different countries.

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