The EU on June 5 imposed tariffs of 11.8 percent on panels from China for allegedly selling them in the 27-nation bloc at below cost, a practice known as dumping. From Aug. 6, that rate is scheduled to rise to 51.5 percent for Changzhou-based Trina. The initial lower rate was a compromise designed to give Chinese and European officials more time to negotiate.
“It’s two months of uncertainty, and there’s a sense of what happens now?” Ben Hill, president of Trina Europe, said today in a phone interview. “Even at 11.8 percent, that probably closes down a few of the markets. In the U.K., the threshold for where we can install a system has gone south.”
The dispute pitted different parts of the European solar industry against each other. The European Commission says producers such as Germany’s Solarworld AG (SWV) suffered as a result of dumping, which could cost the 27-nation bloc 25,000 jobs. The Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy, a coalition of 600 companies, said tariffs of 20 percent could cost 175,500 jobs.
“Within the value chain of making solar from silicon to installing it on a roof, making a solar module is a very small part of the whole thing,” Hill said. “The people who still suffer the most are the installers.”
About 48 percent of Trina’s shipments last year were to Europe, according to a Feb. 26 presentation posted on the company website. Germany took a third of shipments, 6.1 percent went to Italy, and 3.1 percent to the U.K. Hill said that Trina employs about 85 people in Europe. He denied the company had been involved in dumping.
“We don’t agree with the conclusion of dumping,” Hill said. “We’re absolutely not selling panels at below cost price in Europe.”
The EU is also threatening to impose a separate set of duties on Chinese solar panels to counter alleged subsidies. That’s the focus of a second investigation in which the deadline for introducing duties is Aug. 8. The commission would imposing any definitive anti-subsidy measures in December.
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