European solar firms sue China over price dumping | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 26.07.2012
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European solar firms sue China over price dumping

A group of leading European solar companies have filed anti-dumping litigation with the European Commission, in an effort to curb cheap solar imports from China. Chinese firms have warned of a trade war in the industry.

The solar industry complaint was filed by 25 firms, mainly from Germany, Italy and Spain, and was supported by "a majority" of European solar companies, said Milan Nitzschke, spokesman for the initiative, which calls itself EU ProSun.

Nitzschke told German business newspaper "Handelsblatt" on Thursday that the aim of the complaint was to make the European Commission look into allegations that Chinese firms had been selling their products "below market value" in Europe.

The companies' drive is led by German firm SolarWorld, which had successfully spearheaded a similar initiative in the United States. In May, the US administration imposed duties of about 31 percent on solar panel imports from China.

SolarWorld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck denied allegations the companies were seeking higher panel prices in Europe. Rather the complaint was filed to stop a "disastrous price war" in the market, he told Handelsblatt.

Chinese retaliation

In response to the complaint, China's solar firms on Thursday warned of a trade war in the industry, calling on the Chinese government to take "all necessary and resolute measures" to protect the interests of the country's solar industry.

"If the EU were to follow the precedent of the US and launch an anti-dumping investigation, the Chinese solar industry would suffer a fatal blow," Wang Yiyu, Chief Strategy Officer at Yingli Solar said.

At a joint briefing held by China's main solar firms - Yingli, SunTech, Trina and CanadianSolar - he warned that a potential "trade war" between China and the EU could cause "huge losses to both parties."

According to figures provided by the four companies, close to 60 percent of China's solar exports were shipped to Europe, valuing $35.8 billion (29.5 billion euros) per year.

China's solar industry is operating at overcapacity created in recent years with the help of cheap credit lines from the government.

However, in Europe a number of firms in the industry have gone bankrupt recently, four of which were in Germany.

uhe/ccp (Reuters, AFP)