The world leader in the production of solar panels, Suntech Power, reacted following the filing of an anti-dumping complaint by another manufacturer, this time German – SolarWorld AG – to the European Commission.
The German Government, through the voice of his environment minister, Peter Altmaier, said last it wanted to consider “the possibility to initiate proceedings for unfair competition against China.” A correction was then held by a spokesman for the minister, indicating that it was “business of the branch to initiate – a procedure – from the European Commission.” The reaction was not long time coming. A consortium of European companies in the sector led by the German SolarWorld filed a complaint with the European Commission to denounce the anti-dumping practices (ie, the fact for a country to sell cheaper abroad than in his own country) of their Chinese competitors.
American companies are facing the same phenomenon – the market is flooded with low cost Asian solar panels – and they decided to impose tariffs on Chinese solar panels this spring, an import tax of 31%.
The European Commission now has 45 calendar days to decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to conduct a thorough investigation. If it decides there are some, it will have nine months to decide whether to fix or not the provisional duties. In all cases, the investigation must be carried to completion within 15 months.
“Suntech rejects all accusations made by SolarWorld under which it has received illegal subsidies and dumping shares of its photovoltaic products in Europe and agrees to cooperate fully in any investigation. As market leader, enjoying a global presence and customers in 80 countries, Suntech will continue to demonstrate its commitment to fair practices in international trade. As a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Suntech is completely transparent about its production costs and financing costs. Suntech growth is due to its efficient manufacturing operations and investments in the long term R&D in order to produce high-performance solar products. We hope that the European Commission will realize that protectionism would be harmful to the entire solar industry in Europe and a trade war would undermine unwarranted years of progress, “said Jerry Stokes, President of Suntech Europe .
“Protectionist measures would increase the cost of solar energy in Europe, delaying the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Any compensation tax would also put at risk thousands of jobs in the European solar industry,” added Mr. Stokes.
The solar industry provides about 300,000 jobs in Europe, 80% are the upstream and downstream of the industry, such as raw material suppliers, equipment manufacturers, installers, system design and financing projects and are not concentrated in the production of solar cells and panels.
“Moreover, the supply chain for photovoltaic cells and panels is global and complex. Most solar systems installed in Europe are manufactured with components from around the world. Suntech, for example, imports much of its manufacturing equipment and raw materials from European suppliers. In 2010 and 2011, Suntech has procured more than 600 million of equipment and raw materials from European suppliers. Suntech is aware that any protectionist measure, set up to support producers of photovoltaic cells and modules in Europe, irreparably undermine all other parts of the value chain of the industry. Suntech, a large majority of European and global solar industry are united in their support for open markets and in their determination to avoid a trade war,” said Mr. Stokes.