Ministry welcomes EU's moves on solar panel tariffs

By Zheng Xin and Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-19 07:23

The Ministry of Commerce said on Monday that the European Union's recent decisions on tariffs on Chinese solar panels were a positive step toward market normalization, and it hopes that the EU will completely scrap such measures.

On Saturday, the EU issued its final announcement that it will limit China's solar panel exports by setting a minimum import price. The regulation will be implemented from Oct 1, and the minimum import price will be set step-by-step.

Specifically, the European Commission set the minimum import price for different photovoltaic products. The price for polycrystalline cells is 0.19 euro ($0.23) per watt, while the price for monocrystalline cells is 0.23 euro per watt, and the prices for polycrystalline and monocrystalline components will be 0.37 euro per watt and 0.42 euro per watt respectively.

The EU first imposed tariffs on Chinese solar products, which make up one-third of sales in the EU in 2013, and these were allegedly retailing at below production costs. It extended the trade measures to the end of 2015.

However, appeals for fewer restrictions among member countries have been on the rise in Europe, with hundreds of companies and environmental organizations asking the commission to scrap the measures.

Industry insiders said that the development of clean energy in Europe has been impeded due to the tariffs and the setting of a minimum import price, and called for the commission to scrap the anti-dumping duties.

China's Ministry of Commerce, which has repeatedly urged the EU to suspend trade measures against solar exports from the nation, said last month that the European Commission must immediately withdraw wrongly imposed penalties on China's photovoltaic sector.

"The EU should fulfill its commitment to the World Trade Organization and abandon the Surrogate Country System in its trade measures regarding China," said Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

He said that the new regulation still lacks transparency in terms of the determination of the price standards.

"This will result in an unfair business environment for Chinese enterprises, neither will it benefit EU members in implementing their climate agreement commitments."

"Limiting the import price by unit capacity will intensify trade competition between PV makers in China. Businesses will strive to improve their product efficiency, and lowering the threshold of the import price gradually relieves the companies' financial burden," he added.

Zhou Dadi, a senior researcher at the China Energy Research Society, said that the cost of manufacturing PV products is now relatively low, and China has an abundant supply of PV products.

"Ever since last year, the EU has been offering subsidies to some countries for their PV products, which, together with the new measure, will affect exports of China's PV products to some extent."

"However, the influence won't be that much. Ten years ago, 90 percent of China's PV products were exported. Now, exports mean much less for the sector, in that it is more dependent on the domestic market. Therefore, the regulation will not affect Chinese PV manufacturers to a great extent," said Zhou.

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