EU countries clear 18-month extension of China solar duties

Solar Panel Photo Fotolia AdobeStock

Posted by Joseph R Fonseca

European Union member have cleared an 18-month
extension of import tariffs on solar panels from China, a
compromise position after initial opposition, sources said on
Friday.

Anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties have been in place on
Chinese solar panels and cells since 2013 and are currently under
review as to whether they should be maintained.

The European Commission had initially proposed a two-year
extension, but that was rejected by a majority of EU countries in
a vote last month, prompting the Commission to revise its
proposal.

The Commission has also referred to a gradual phase-out of such
duties, although has yet to establish the details.

The Commission faces a delicate balancing act between the
interests of EU manufacturers and those benefiting from cheap
imports, while also being concerned about the response from
Beijing, seen as a possible ally in fights against protectionism
and climate change.

The EU and China came close to a trade war in 2013 over EU
allegations of dumping by Chinese solar panel exporters.

EU ProSun, a group of manufacturers including Germany's
SolarWorld, said it broadly welcomed the extension of measures to
protect industry under pressure from Chinese dumping, although
questioned why the Commission had not stuck by its initial
two-year extension.

"It seems a little bit to be a signal so as to make closer ties
with China," said EU ProSun president Milan Nitzschke.

SolarPower Europe, which represents those in the solar industry
opposed to duties, said it was clear the measures were unpopular
and that a more sensible compromise would have been to limit the
extension to 12 months with a clear signal then to end them.

The Commission is expected to discuss the issue again at its
weekly meeting on Wednesday.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by David Evans

Feb 18, 2017

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