18 out of 27 EU Member States are against the imposition of import duties on solar products
It has been reported that 18 EU Member States have voted against the imposition of import tariffs on solar products from China. It is believed that only four countries voted in favor of the Commission recommendation and the balance abstained. This is a strong message to the Commission that most member states see the value in cheaper solar modules from China. In May the Commission recommended a weighted average of 47% import duty on all solar products imported from China to the EU. This has been reduced to 11.8% until 5th August 2013 to give time for a negotiated solution between China and the EU.
During a hearing organised at the European Commission in April, David Maguire of BNRG with a delegation of over 60 company directors from the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy ‘AFASE’ made it very clear to the Commission that import duties are not in the Union interest. AFASE represents over 650 companies with a turnover in excess of 23 billion Euro and 64,000 employees from across Europe. In Ireland, the newly formed Irish Solar Energy Association ‘ISEA’ have written to both the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton raising their concerns on the matter.
The European Commission should understand that the value added lies upstream and downstream from solar panel production. Imposing duties on imports of Chinese solar panels would be against the Union Interest and a clear contradiction with Europe’s ambition to build a green and high value-added economy.
AFASE requests the European Commission to take into account the interests of an EU PV Value Chain that stands to lose a great many jobs and value added to the detriment of the EU economy overall. Equally, the ISEA urges Minister Bruton to oppose the imposition of import and countervailing duties on Chinese produces to Europe. Already, our largest trading partner, the UK has come out strongly against the imposition of import duties. In a rare show of consensus, German political parties across the political spectrum and various trade associations are very concerned about the possibility of a trade war with China and are urging the Commission to consider this recommendation very carefully.
In light of the overwhelming resistance from EU member States to import duties, it widely believed that a negotiated solution on this trade dispute will be found and that little or no import duties would be imposed.