Solar Duties of 11.8% Applied to Chinese Solar Products
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From the 6th June, a tariff rate of 11.8% has been applied to solar products manufactured in China, under the direction of European trade commissioner Karel de Gucht.
The rate will be applied until 6th August 2013, at which point the tariff rate will return to an average of 46.7% as proposed by the EC.
Despite the fact that 18 out of 27 member states opposed the proposed plans, the imposition of the duties has been implemented in response to the discovery that China had been issuing solar panels to the EU at below-cost prices. In effect; dumping solar products into Europe. The tariff rate is designed to keep competition fair, and adhere properly to international trade rules.
Speaking of the month-long tariff change, De Gucht said: “The actual price would be 88% higher than the current price Chinese solar panels are being sold for in the EU [if China was not dumping solar products]. Our action is about ensuring fair competition in respect to international trade rules.”
The percentage of 11.8% was reportedly chosen as a quarter of the original 47% figure. The lower rate, according to The Guardian, is meant to push China into a compromise regarding the issue of solar panels and solar products.
By selling solar panels for such low prices, Chinese solar panel providers have been accused of undercutting their rivals and thus threatening thousands of jobs in the solar industry in Europe. The lowered tariff rate should give other suppliers some breathing room, though the decision has not been met with approval from many sectors of the solar industry.
The dangers of using cheap solar panels have been well documented, with Chinese solar PV panels claiming much of the blame for defective products.
Speaking of the issue, Katy Jones from UK solar product supplier Dulas, said: “The recent reports coming from the New York Times about the rapid failure of solar PV panels illustrates the importance of choosing proven quality panels and experienced installers.
“The myth propagated by those selling cheap panels from relatively young companies was that, with no moving parts, nothing can go wrong so why pay more. Sadly over the coming years we are likely to see the consequences of this. Solar PV is an excellent long term investment but only if you apply full life cycle costing instead of chasing the lowest initial capital expenditure.
“Dulas have recently launched a PV doctor service that addresses the issues of poorly performing PV installations by providing a troubleshooting service for those experiencing reduced output levels. Dulas uses only the best PV manufacturers and has over 20 years installation experience so the emphasis for us is very much on quality.”
As China’s largest EU trading partner, Germany has responded to the rate change with strong opposition. Most EU states also voiced disapproval, but the decision was made in any case since the EU law stipulates that the commission should apply emergency duties in the event of European suppliers’ custom being directly affected.