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Tensions rife in solar industry

July 20, 2012

German solar firms are preparing anti-dumping litigation against China in an effort to curb cheap panel imports often backed by state subsidies. The German government is supporting the move.


Germany's second biggest solar firm, Solarword, said Friday that it would seek anti-dumping proceedings with the European Commission in Brussels with the aim of imposing punitive tariffs on cheap solar imports from China.

Highlighting the need for action "as fast as possible", a company spokesman told the dpa news agency that "a number of solar companies" would join the effort, but he didn't disclose the names of firms participating.

"The [German] solar industry is fully competitive, and able to compete against anyone in the world except the central government in China", the spokesman said.

Beijingwas putting "huge sums" into export subsidies for solar products, he claimed, enabling Chinese firms to sell them in Europe at prices that undercut even the production costs.

The German government appears to be backing the companies' anti-dumping action. German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told German public broadcaster ZDF on Thursday that he would "fully support" the companies in the effort.

Solar trade tensions mounting

Solarworld has led industry calls in Western nations for action against Asian cell and module makers and was successful earlier this year when - on the company's initiative - the US Department of Commerce imposed anti-subsidy duties of between 2.9 to 4.7 percent against Chinese solar parts.

The department subsequently made a preliminary ruling in May that would impose anti-dumping duties on average of around 30 percent on Chinese solar panel parts. The final ruling on anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties is expected this October.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government appears determined to retaliate as it announced Friday it would open an investigation into imports of solar-grade polysilicon from the US and South Korea.

The Ministry of Commerce said in two statements posted on its website that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes would be launched, which will likely impact US polysilicon maker Hemlock and South Korean firm OCI Corp if punitive measures are imposed.

China's solar companies hold more than 60 percent of the global market - a position that industry analysts say the country gained through lavish credit lines and other state subsidies to its solar firms.

In Germany, which is one of the world's largest solar energy markets, cheap imports of solar equipment from China have led to a series of bankruptcies of solar firms.

uhe/slk (dpa, Reuters)

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