BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union has launched an anti-dumping probe into Chinese solar panels, after an industry association claimed the products were being exported for less than it costs to make them.
An EU statement said that in 2011 China exported solar panels and associated key components worth around C21 billion ($26.5 billion) to the 27-nation bloc.
The complaint is the biggest-ever anti-dumping claim filed with the EU. It was filed in July by a group of 25 producers of solar gear including companies from Germany, Italy and Spain.
The statement said the investigation is expected to last 15 months. But “it is possible according to trade defence rules to impose provisional anti-dumping duties within 9 months, provided there is sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping.”
Chinese manufacturers of the solar — or photovoltaic — panels have denied that China was providing any illegal subsidies to its own manufacturers, noting that the industry is in the midst of a radical transition as the cost of such products drop.
The companies have warned that Beijing would retaliate. Nearly 60 per cent of China’s $35.8 billion in exports of solar products went to Europe last year.
In Beijing, China’s Ministry of Commerce expressed “deep regret,” and urged the EU to resolve trade frictions over solar panels through negotiations.
“Restricting photovoltaic cells not only hurts the interests of industries on both sides but also will destroy the healthy development of the global PV industry and clean energy,” spokesman Shen Danyang said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the issue with Chinese officials during her visit to Beijing last week. Germany prefers solving this problem through negotiations, rather than being investigated by the EU.
In May, the US Commerce Department to levy tariffs against several Chinese manufacturers, alleging they illegally sold their products below cost.