China could retaliate over a European anti-dumping complaint filed against Chinese solar companies, officials from a Chinese industry body said yesterday in a protracted row over cheaper Chinese solar modules.
Western solar companies have been at odds with their Chinese counterparts for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices, while European players struggle to refinance.
Jobs and profits would be lost if the European Commission ruled in favor of a complaint made by European solar firms, led by Germany’s SolarWorld AG, China Chamber of Commerce for the Import & Export of Machinery and Electronic Products secretary-general Sun Guangbin (孫廣彬) told a news conference.
“If they implement trade restrictions, demand for solar products will not be met as only a small number of firms will profit from it, which will push up costs,” Sun said.
“Many people in Europe will lose their jobs as upstream and downstream firms will suffer,” Sun said.
He added that China’s imports of solar equipment and related services helped support 300,000 jobs throughout Europe.
The European Commission has 45 days to decide if it will start an investigation once a complaint has been filed. After that, it has nine months to decide on provisional duties.
It must conclude its investigation within 15 months.
“We call on the EU Commission and all EU members to deal with the issue prudently and fairly,” chamber vice president Wang Guiqing (王貴清) told the same news conference.
“The issue has aroused a high degree of attention from the Chinese government. We hope that the worst case scenario can be avoided,” he said.
China’s solar firms last week warned of a trade war and called on the government to respond with all means to an anti-dumping complaint filed by European competitors.
SolarWorld spearheaded a similar initiative in the US, leading the world’s largest economy to impose duties of about 31 percent in May on solar-panel imports from China.
Almost 60 percent of China’s solar exports, worth US$35.8 billion, were shipped to the EU last year.
Wang denied allegations that Chinese solar firms had sold products below market value in Europe — the world’s biggest solar market — arguing that their competitiveness stems from greater efficiency.
Meanwhile, Trina Solar Ltd (天合光能), China’s fourth-biggest solar-module maker, quashed plans by its workers to protest SolarWorld’s anti-dumping complaint to the EU Commission on the advice of government officials.
“The local government considers the meeting inappropriate,” Trina’s public affairs department’s corporate communications manager Gong Yingwen said by telephone on Thursday.
Workers at Trina’s Changzhou plant planned to protest yesterday because they were “outraged” by the “extreme trade protectionism” that they said would harm them while doing little to benefit Europe, according to an e-mailed statement sent by Gong on Tuesday.
Plans for a demonstration to protest the EU complaint were also canceled at Hebei-based Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (英利綠色能源) when weather conditions hindered the action.
The canceled protest by 10,000 workers at Yingli Green Energy’s five plants was because of “weather conditions at the Tianjin and Hainan plants,” Liang Tian, a company spokesperson, said by telephone.