* EU governments must decide whether to extend duties
* EU-China solar dispute threatened trade war in 2013
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, Dec 21 The European Commission has
recommended keeping import duties and a minimum price for solar
panels and cells from China for two more years, according to
documents seen by Reuters.
The European Union and China came close to a trade war in
2013 over EU allegations of solar panel dumping by China. But
this was averted by an agreement to allow a limited amount of
tariff-free panels at prices not below 0.56 euros per watt.
The Commmission is currently reviewing that agreement and
also import duties of up to 64.9 percent for those outside the
agreement all of which ended in Dec. 2015.
In the documents, the Commission said ending the measures
would likely lead to a continuation of Chinese subsidies for the
solar sector and a significant increase in dumped imports of
solar cells and modules.
It also said the measures would only have a limited effect
on demand and that comparisons between the 50,000 people working
in importing and installation and the 5,000 to 10,000 in
manufacturing were not appropriate. Job gains in the former
could be outweighed by losses in the latter, it said.
A separate document said the minimum panel price would be
cut to 0.46 euros/watt.
EU ProSun, a group of manufacturers including Germany's
SolarWorld, welcomed the findings, saying there was
no shortage of competitively priced cells and modules in Europe
and that the depressed EU market was due to political decisions,
such as to reduce payments for green energy, not the import
But SolarPower Europe, which represents those in the solar
industry opposed to duties, said the large majority of industry
players wanted the removal of trade barriers, which would hinder
a growing solar sector in Europe. It hoped EU member states
would support it.
The interested parties have until Jan. 6 to respond before
the Commission makes a formal proposal to the 28 EU governments.
($1 = 0.9610 euros)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Jane Merriman)