EU ends solar panel row with China

The European Commission (EC), executive arm of the European Union (EU), yesterday gave its approval for an amicable settlement of the solar panel dispute with China, bringing an end to the EU's biggest trade row of its kind.

Solar panelEarlier in June, the EU decided to impose punitive tariffs of up to 67.9 per cent on the import of Chinese solar panels in order to restrict dumping of solar panels below cost in the 28-nation bloc, in order to protect the European solar industry. (See: EU to impose high tariffs on Chinese solar panels to check dumping)

The new decision involves setting a minimum price and volume limit for imported Chinese solar panels until the end of 2015. Chinese manufacturers who become part of the deal, will be free from the 'anti-dumping duties' imposed by the EU in June.

''The Commission adopted a decision to accept the undertaking offered by Chinese exporting producers of solar panels, as well as a regulation exempting these participating companies from the payment of provisional anti-dumping duties,'' the EC said in a release.

The legal acts pertaining to the EC's decision will be published in the EU's official journal today and those will become effective from 6 August.

''As a consequence, those Chinese companies participating in the price undertaking will be exempted from paying any anti-dumping duties as of 6 August, whereas those companies not participating will pay the increased anti-dumping duties that have been announced on 5 June 2013,'' the EC said.

According to the statement, the resolution received ''almost unanimous support from the member states,'' although details have not been revealed.

Last week, following ''intensive talks'' with Chinese solar panel manufactures, the European commissioner for trade Karel De Gucht arrived at a settlement through enforcement of curbs on Chinese solar panels and removal of import tariffs.

Under the terms, the minimum price would be €0.56 per watt of annual imports from China up to a limit of 7 gigawatts. The provisional duties would be in the range of 37.3 per cent to a maximum of 67.9 per cent, depending on the company.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, De Gucht said: ''This is going to stabilise the market. I hope that this deal is going to give the necessary oxygen to the European companies, and also companies from other countries, to invest again in research and development so that we can develop a new generation of solar panels.''

Solar panels account for over 6 per cent of China's exports to Europe, which made them one of the largest Chinese exports to the EU. In 2011, Chinese exports of panels and their main components to the EU stood at around €21 billion ($27.4 billion).