EU imposes import duties on Chinese PV
The European Commission has decided to impose import duties on solar cells and panels from China. Initially, 11.8 percent will be added to the price as negotiations with China continue. If no agreement can be reached, that figure will rise to more than 47 percent in August.
This week, the European Commission announced that it will begin imposing import duties on PV products from China starting tomorrow. The Commission says the decision is the result of a thorough study and intensive talks with market players. Those wishing to review the entire history of events, which started in the US, should read Christian Roselund’s excellent overview published on Monday at SolarServer.
Initially, the duties were expected to come in at between 37 and 67 percent, but the commission has chosen instead to incrementally implement trade tariffs starting at 11.8 percent. This rate applies up until August 6, 2013, for all PV firms that did not "cooperate" with the Commission's investigations. After that point, the rate is scheduled to increase to 47.6 percent.
The Commission says it will continue to negotiate with Chinese exporters and the Chinese Chamber of Trade to reach an agreement – one that will have to comply with Article 8 of EU trade law. If an agreement is reached, these "preliminary" trade duties could even be done away with. In effect, the EU seems to be trying to give China a warning and avoid a full-blown trade war. After all, Beijing has already announced that it will be looking into a wide range of exports from the EU in retaliation. Brussels is now working to found a European-Chinese Committee to settle all of the issues in line with WTO rules.
Interestingly, a majority of EU member states do not support the Commission's decision. Over the past few weeks, 18 of the 27 members rejected the move. The vote is not, however, binding (further evidence that parts of the bureaucracy in EU are no longer embedded in democratic processes, but that is a different story). German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called out against trade duties in favor of negotiations. Green politician Hans-Josef Fell says the impending trade war has been on the horizon for months and wonders why negotiations have not moved forward more quickly. (Sven Ullrich / Craig Morris)