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EPIA calls for 'free and fair trade' between Europe and China

Europe-wide PV trade association would like to see trade relations between Europe and China -- with respect to solar modules and cells -- return to normal 'undistorted, fair trade' as soon as possible.

Speaking at the 9th SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference & Exhibition in Shanghai earlier this week, European Photovoltaic Industry Association president, Oliver Schaefer, outlined EPIA's new position on the solar modules and cells trade case between China and the EU. In particular, Schaefer stated that "EPIA is a strong supporter of free and fair trade, and we would like to see trade relations between Europe and China (on solar modules and cells) return to normal undistorted, fair trade as soon as possible, when the duties and respective price undertaking expire in 2015." 

Since December 2013, anti-dumping and countervailing duties have been applied in Europe on crystalline silicon modules and cells originating in or consigned from China. An undertaking submitted by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) articulated around a Minimum Import Price (MIP) and quota was accepted by the EU. The duties and MIP are due to expire in December 2015. (Similar duties were imposed on solar PV exports to the US.)

European duties on Chinese solar products -- and the associated price undertaking -- are a likely factor in the slowdown in annual growth of installations in Europe, observers say. "The Board has agreed this position, as we believe that a return to a level playing field will help solar power in Europe to grow and support the European electricity market in achieving its challenging emission reduction goals," Schaefer stated. " Consumers will also be able to buy quality products manufactured at scale, at the best possible prices."

EPIA said it supports European production, research and development, as well as applications, in all segments of the solar power value chain. Europe has a strong solar sector, including manufacturing, development, operations and maintenance, power system integration and many other segments. EPIA estimates that employment in the solar sector comprised about 265 thousand full time jobs in 2011. More than half of these are now gone, according to IEA estimates, with the majority of them in the installation sector. 

"‘We support all actions that can contribute to increased solar job creation in Europe along the solar value chain," Schaefer stated. ‘We believe that taking this position on the trade case supports this objective."

EPIA recognises that the full benefits of solar power for European citizens and customers depends on continuous innovation through research and development. According to Schaefer, this should be focused on targeting higher quality solar panels and a high level of requirements for technical and environmental performance of solar products and systems installed in Europe. Global value chains reflecting real costs of production and free from trade barriers are a prerequisite for economies of scale and related cost reductions.

"By having more competitive, high-quality solar panels from the world’s leading companies from all over the world, we can increase the rate and quality of solar installations in Europe," Schaefer said.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets