EU to register Chinese solar panels in move toward duties: sources

Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:42pm EST
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By Ethan Bilby

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU member states have approved a European Commission plan to register solar panels from China, EU diplomats said, as the latest step toward duties on the 21 billion euro ($28.08 billion) import market.

The solar panel import market is one of the biggest trade areas the Commission has ever tackled. Politicians have warned the tensions between the EU and China, its second largest trading partner, could erupt into a trade war.

On Wednesday, a regular meeting of representatives of EU member states approved the proposal to register panels, the sources said.

It would allow duties to be placed retroactively on China and its companies if they were found to have sold panels at less than the cost of making them.

The diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not say when the registration would begin.

The Commission launched a probe into the dumping of Chinese solar panels onto the EU market last September, and another in November into illegal subsidies made to Chinese panel makers.

Both cases stem from a complaint by European solar companies, led by Germany's SolarWorld SWVG.DE, which claim to have suffered financial harm due to cheap Chinese-manufactured panels.

Chinese companies sold about 21 billion euros worth of solar panels and components to the EU in 2011 - about 60 percent of all Chinese exports of the product and some 7 percent of all Chinese exports to the EU, according to Commission figures.   Continued...

A solar power plant is seen near a thermal power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer