Suntech’s Dr. Shi argues against the “shackles of myopic protectionism”

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Dr. Zhengrong Shi, executive chairman and chief strategy officer of the largest global PV manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, wrote an impassioned guest post for the Financial Times that the global solar industry needs freeing from the “shackles of myopic protectionism”.

In a plea to those involved in the US and EU Commission’s battle against Chinese manufacturers, accusing them of anti-dumping and countervailing measures, he calls on the solar industry to “embrace a global free trade zone in clean power technology – and start to break down the walls of global trade instead of putting them up.”

Dr. Shi quotes Dartmouth professor Matthew Slaughter who calls on the global solar community to negotiate and implement a Clean Technology Agreement. Dr. Shi also cites SEMI and the SEIA who paint a bleak picture of the future of solar power:

“Unfortunately, these investigations will have an immediate, adverse impact on US polysilicon manufacturers, regardless of the investigations’ outcome. The investigations also threaten the Chinese solar industry’s access to the world’s most efficient and innovative polysilicon products. Once again, what’s missing from today’s decision is any effort to find common ground. Enhanced coordination between industry and government will help avoid trade friction at an earlier stage and create a complementary avenue for resolving trade conflict.”

The dire consequences of these anti-dumping measures are echoed by Gregory Spanoudakis, president of European Operations at Canadian Solar:

“We hope that the European Commission will recognize that punitive tariffs on our solar products are neither in the interest of the European solar industry nor in the interest of the European Union. The majority of the industry would be the losers of an initiative driven by only a few sector representatives pursuing narrow individual interests.”

But it is not only Chinese manufacturers professing their innocence. An alliance of American solar manufacturers, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, has also voiced its objections to these proceedings:

“The last thing the US and European solar industries need is the further escalation of a trade war in which there will be no winners. A solar trade war is bad for the American solar industry, bad for American jobs, bad for American consumers and bad for the global environment,” president Jigar Shah said in a statement.

Dr Shi opines that, “To tackle global challenges such as climate change, air and water pollution, energy scarcity and energy poverty, we need global solutions unconstrained by political boundaries. Low cost solar power is a good thing for the world – we just need the courage to agree.”

He concludes with statistics: “The European solar industry employs 300,000 people, and the US solar industry employs more than 100,000 people. Considering that less than 1% of the world’s energy production comes from solar, imagine how many jobs we could create if that number was 25%, or even 5 %.”

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