Solar probe 'could backfire'

Updated: 2012-03-07 07:52

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

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A possible EU probe into Chinese photovoltaic solar makers could cause the loss of 300,000 jobs in the debt-burdened zone, Chinese industry officials warned on Tuesday.

"China's PV solar industry is part of the global industry chain and the EU has about 300,000 jobs in the upstream and downstream segments of the PV solar industry," said Chen Huiqing, deputy director of the Solar Energy & PV Products Branch under the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.

"An investigation into Chinese makers will greatly influence the EU itself."

The EU "should not blame China's fast development of the PV solar industry for the collapse of EU makers, because China's success comes from technological progress, advanced management and cost reductions", Chen said.

She said it is common to see PV solar makers go out of business, whether in China or the EU, let alone at a time when the EU is being depressed by a debt crisis and the global economy is recovering slowly.

"The EU should reflect on whether its management, technology and products target the right consumers," she said.

Zhang Jianmin, senior manager of Suntech Power Holdings Co in Jiangsu province, said that "a possible probe by the EU will not only reduce China's exports of the products but also lower its imports of (related) equipment and raw materials, which will affect the development of installation and after-sales services of the industry in the EU".

The EU accounts for 50 percent of the company's exports, though the company is now "turning its eyes to emerging markets with rich solar resources", including the Middle East, Africa and China, according to Zhang.

While the US and EU aim to protect their domestic industries with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against PV solar products from China, such moves "could likely be followed by the emerging markets, including India, Brazil and East Asian countries, where China has quite a big market", according to Sang Baichuan, dean of the Institute of International Economy at the University of International Business and Economics.

But Chen said she still remains optimistic about the industry".

"The PV solar industry is part of the 'new energy' trend and is supported by the government as a strategic emerging industry. Domestic manufacturers can surely overcome difficulties by adjusting their global markets and increasing international cooperation to reduce trade frictions," she said.