News Column

EU Irks China Over Solar Panel Pricing Investigation

Sept. 12, 2012

Bill Smith, dpa

solar panels

The European Union angered China last week when it launched an anti-dumping investigation of whether solar panel firms were illegally undercutting prices on the European market.

China, which accounts for about 65 per cent of global production, said it "deeply regrets" the move and called for cooperation in the solar panel industry.

The EU is China's main export market. Chinese solar panels and associated components to the bloc in 2011 were valued at about 21 billion euros (26 billion dollars), according to EU figures.

Gao Jifan, chief of leading panel maker Trina Solar, rejected the EU's claims that Chinese firms were illegally subsidized.

But Gao said he was optimistic that the two sides could resolve the dispute.

He spoke to dpa on the sidelines of this week's World Economic Forum "summer Davos" meeting in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.

dpa: When your products are sold in Europe, some EU companies say they are subsidized and sold below cost price. What do you say?

Gao: Companies in the solar power industry have been making losses since the third quarter of last year, not only Chinese companies, but also German and American ones.

This is caused by over-competition. All companies from all regions that are selling products to Europe, like Japanese and South Korean ones, are also claiming losses, not only Chinese enterprises. So it is not about dumping, it's all about how to manage the over-competition.

dpa: But doesn't the Chinese solar industry get cheap credit, cheap loans and subsidies because state banks support you?

Gao: No. Let's look at the loan interest. Loan interest in China is surely higher than in Germany and the US. A company like Trina can survive and develop well, (not only in China) but also in Germany or the US because of its capacity for technological innovation and management.

dpa: Will be there be any dialogue on the dispute?

Gao: There should be two dialogues, one is between the authorities, which has started from the talks between (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and Premier Wen (Jiabao).

Then the next step should be talks between the Chinese Commerce Ministry and the European Trade Committee or German commerce ministry. I think there will be more talks like that as (we all) want the dispute to be solved. We entrepreneurs will certainly have our own dialogues through various channels.

dpa: What will you do next?

Gao: Along with all of our enterprises in the industry chain in Europe, we will communicate with the authorities to let them know what is the best solution.

dpa: When do you plan to do that?

Gao: We have already started doing it. There is AFASE (Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy) in Europe already. It will release reports continually to the German, Italian and other European governments to give an idea of which solution is the best way for the whole solar industry.

We will also try our best to attend more industry events to communicate with (the European side), and even (try to join) some governmental talks. The good thing is, this has now attracted more attention so voices from both sides will be heard, instead of just one voice. As Merkel mentioned when she was here (in China last month), there are actually some different opinions in Europe as well.

dpa: So are you optimistic that it will come to a good resolution?

Gao: I think the challenge is still quite huge, but we will try our best to resolve it. Because that will benefit the solar industry not only in China or Germany, but also the whole industry.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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