Brussels: solar panels imports from China - EU imposes provisional anti-dumping duties

In summer 2012, more than 20 European manufacturers of solar panels and key components formed the ad hoc industry association EU ProSun to initiate the most significant anti-dumping case in the history of the EU regarding imports of solar panels from China worth EUR 21 billion in 2011. With a production of 65 % of all solar panels, China is the world's largest producer. China exports around 80 % to the EU making it China's main export market.

EU ProSun provided sufficient prima facie evidence in the complaint to the European Commission ("Commission") for it to open an anti-dumping investigation on imports of solar panels (and certain components) originating from China in September 2012. EU ProSun claims that solar panels imported from China enter the European market at prices below market value giving them an unfair market advantage. According to the Commission’s findings such prices are due to over-capacity within the Chinese market.

On 4 June 2013, the Commission unanimously decided to levy provisional anti-dumping duties. As of 6 June 2013, a tariff of 11.8 % will be levied on the import price on Chinese solar panels which will be increased to 47.6 % on average as of 6 August 2013. These provisional duties are basically valid for six months unless a prior solution is reached with China which allows a suspension of the provisional duties.

The Chinese government already presented an official statement regarding anti-dumping duties. On 25 March 2013, Quan Chong, deputy international trade representative of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, warned the EU in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency that the Chinese government would take all possible measures to protect the legitimate rights of Chinese companies in case their interests were seriously impaired.

In case anti-dumping investigations are abused for political purposes (protectionism, retaliation) and members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), such as the EU and China, do not follow the strict rules of the WTO-Agreement on Anti-dumping, action may be taken against such non-obeying members before the competent court or through WTO dispute settlement procedures.

Anti-dumping investigations may not be conducted for protectionist reasons, but all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the EU and China, have to follow the strict rules of the WTO Agreement on Anti-dumping, otherwise action may be taken against members conducting investigations purely for political reasons before the competent court or through WTO dispute settlement procedures.

If the Commission in its final findings establishes that there has been price dumping which caused injury and the imposition of measures is in the interest of the Community, the Council shall impose a definitive anti-dumping duty within 15 months after the initiation of the investigation, thus by 5 December 2013, which normally expires five years

Christina Hummer
Svenja Kutnig