China opposes EU's probes into solar, telecom companies

Updated: 2013-05-25 01:30

By Tuo Yannan in Brussels, Belgium and Ding Qingfen in Zurich, Switzerland (China Daily)

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Measures 'harm others without benefiting oneself'

Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday that China firmly opposes the European Union's probes into Chinese solar and telecom products, suggesting that once the results of the investigations are released, both sides will be harmed.

Li said in a speech delivered at a luncheon with business and financial leaders during his trip to Switzerland that China is keeping a close eye on the EU's trade probes, urging the bloc to use trade-protection measures cautiously.

On Friday, the European organization Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy carried out a symbolic funeral march in front of EU buildings. The organization said that more than 200,000 jobs are expected to be lost as a direct consequence of the European Commission's plans to impose punitive duties on imports of solar products from China.

The EU has made proposals to impose punitive anti-dumping duties of about 46 percent on Chinese solar panel products. The preliminary verdict will be released on June 6, and the final decision will be made by the end of the year.

China's solar products exports are worth about 21 billion euros ($27.2 billion) annually.

Li said the EU measures "harm others without benefiting oneself". He added that every country should work hard to maintain open trade relationships and avoid trade-protectionism moves.

Any penalties will harm both sides, not only China's solar panel and telecom makers, but also European consumers, as well as upstream and downstream companies in those sectors, Li said.

Meanwhile, three major solar panel makers protested in Beijing on Thursday against the EU's actions.

Representatives of the three solar panel giants - Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co, Trina Solar Ltd and Canadian Solar Inc - called for free trade.

Trina Solar's sales in Europe have already been affected because many local partners are worrying about the company's prices after the EU investigations, although the decision hasn't been announced by the EU yet, Colin Yang, vice-president of public affairs at Trina Solar, told China Daily.

Trina Solar - one of the seven Chinese photovoltaic companies being investigated by the EU - got about 48 percent of its sales revenue from Europe in 2012. Germany, Italy and Spain are the company's three major markets.

The three companies said that any penalties imposed by the EU will also have a major negative impact on the EU's economy and job market. About 66 percent of jobs in the solar panel industry are in European local job markets, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

The three companies added in a joint statement that any market-restrictive measures by the EU will hurt China's solar industry, but will also harm the development of the European solar industry.

Li said that China reiterates the need to use consultations and dialogue to solve trade matters rather than trade-protectionism measures.