E.U., China arrive at deal on solar energy trade prices

The two sides said July 27 that they have agreed on an import price, termed a price undertaking, of $0.74/W for Chinese solar panels

After a series of "will they, won't they" rumors of a trade deal, China’s Chamber of Commerce and Europe’s trade minister Karel De Gucht reached an agreement in their spat over solar power panel import pricing, averting what neither side wanted to become a trade war.

The two sides said on July 27 that they have agreed on an import price, termed a price undertaking, of $0.74/W for Chinese solar panels. Both sides also agreed to an annual import quota of 7 GW.

Anti-dumping duties of 47.6 percent, set to go into effect on August 6, will now be averted for Chinese exporters who participate in the voluntary agreement.

China subsequently announced that it would halt what some have termed a retaliatory probe into pricing for imported European wines.

“We found an amicable solution in the E.U.-China solar panels case that will lead to a new market equilibrium at sustainable prices,” De Gucht said in a statement. “I am satisfied with the offer of a price undertaking submitted by China’s solar panel exporters.

“This is the amicable solution that both the E.U. and China were looking for,” he continued. “We are confident that this price undertaking will stabilize the European solar panel market and will remove the injury that the dumping practices have caused to the European industry.”

The settlement will now be reviewed by an advisory committee composed of Europe’s Member States before being tabled for approval by the European Commission.

While much of Europe’s solar industry will now breathe a sign of relief, solar trade association EU ProSun says it has filed legal action against the agreement with the EU General Court in Luxembourg. The group has called the agreed-on price “a clear violation of European trade law”, saying it maintains prices at close to current levels, which it sees as dumping.

“The apparent tradeoff between China and the EU is now that these duties shall be suspended in favor of a minimum import price up to a certain quantity, but EU law places strict legal requirements on such a settlement,” said EU ProSun president Milan Nitzschke. “Thus, the Basic Anti-dumping Regulation, Regulation 1225/2009, explicitly provides that a suspension of anti-dumping duties through a price undertaking is permitted only if the minimum price is adequate to remove the injury caused by the dumping to the European industry.” Countering de Gucht’s claim that the agreed price will remove the injury to the European solar market, Nitzschke said that the agreed-on price is “exactly at the level of the current dumping price for Chinese modules."

“The extension of this action to cover a most unsatisfactory price undertaking is now the logical and required further step,” said Nitzschke. "We are fighting for our rights and for maintaining the high-tech photovoltaic industry in Europe.”

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