Update: Provisional duties on solar imports have been overwhelmingly voted down, but the 47% duties may still move forward.
Will we finally see the end of the Chinese solar trade soap opera? Maybe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang this week called for an end to the EU-China portion of the Chinese solar trade disputes that have been ongoing for the past couple years. The joint press conference was held on Sunday in Berlin.
Merkel said: “Germany will do all it can to prevent permanent import duties being implemented.”
Li, naturally, proclaimed that such duties would be harmful to both countries, and he said he was looking for “both a two-way dialogue and consultation.”
Following similar penalties in the US, the EU is just about set to implement 47% anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar imports. The European Commission is making the decision and has the right to override the objections of individual member countries. But it’s still unclear whether the commission would vote for or against these duties.
The claim made by some European solar technology companies, as made in the US, is that China is subsidizing its solar manufacturers such that they are able to sell their products for less than the cost of producing them, which would be against international trade agreements.
The concern, largely on the side of solar installers in the EU, is that the penalties would increase the price of going solar and hurt their business. So, in essence, it has been a struggle between solar technology manufacturers (+ those on their side) and solar installers (+ those on their side), as well as between Chinese solar manufacturers and EU solar manufacturers.
So far, it has been essentially impossible to come to any agreement to prevent the solar subsidy investigations and movement through the legal system. In the US, the result was an imposition of anti-dumping duties by the US Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission (ITC). We’ll see what happens in the EU.
Notably, Li’s visit to Germany was part of his first trip abroad as premier of China. Germany was the only EU country he visited on this trip. Of course, other political and business matters were discussed, as well.