The Ministry of Economic Affairs said it is to hand over seven local solar product makers for investigation by prosecutors, after the manufacturers allegedly threatened ministry officials when it was discovered they were mislabeling their products.
It is alleged that the solar makers had labeled goods manufactured in China as Taiwan-made prior to selling them on the European market.
“The seven manufacturers have violated the law,” Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-General David Hsu (徐大衛) told reporters during a telephone interview on Thursday night.
He declined to disclose the names of the manufacturers, as the cases are to be transferred to prosecutors soon.
Hsu said that in May the EU launched an anti-dumping investigation against Taiwanese and Malaysian solar cell and module manufacturers after Chinese exporters were accused of avoiding tariffs by shipping the solar products to the EU through Taiwan and Malaysia.
A number of solar manufacturers — including the seven firms — took advantage of Taiwan’s free-trade zones to help Chinese exporters evade tariff duties by selling solar products to EU nations, Hsu said.
“Not only do the accused have no regrets about what they have done, they have also allegedly lobbied, threatened and pressured ministry officials, trying to get away from this,” Hsu said.
He said the bureau in July fined the companies found to have been mislabeling solar products and in August announced a new export policy.
Under that policy, Taiwanese companies exporting solar products, bicycles or screws from the nation’s free-trade zones to the EU must acquire bureau approval, Hsu said.
As part of an anti-dumping investigation, Hsu said a delegation from the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission visited four Taiwanese solar product makers, the economics ministry and the Ministry of Finance from Oct. 1 to Thursday.
The government pledged its support to the delegation, saying it would inspect local solar manufacturers, he said.
The EU was the second-largest export destination for Taiwan’s solar cells and modules last year.
Taiwan’s solar cells and modules exports to Europe totaled NT$20.48 billion (US$623.44 million) last year, accounting for 11.13 percent of the annual production value of the nation’s solar industry, according to the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s (工研院) statistics.
Hsu said the EU is expected to complete the anti-dumping investigation on Feb. 29 and the economics ministry is to closely monitor any updates of the investigation to protect the nation’s interests.
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