- The European Commission is reported to have proposed rejecting the expiry review of import controls on Chinese solar panels and cells, according to Reuters
- The proposal received positive response from the majority of 28 countries in the European Union
- Once the MIP ends in early September 2018, the EC is likely to scrap import controls and put an end to the MIP for Chinese cell and module producers
The European solar industry in general as well as Chinese cell and module manufacturers can finally look forward to the EU market opening up as the European Union is set to scrap import controls on solar panels and cells from China. The European Commission has proposed rejecting a request from solar manufacturers from the European Union for an expiry review, according to a Reuters article. The EC apparently received backing for the proposal from the majority of the 28 European Union member states.
If this is true, as of Sept. 3, 2018, Chinese solar cells and module manufacturers won’t be required to sell their products for a minimum import price (MIP) to the European Union anymore. Though these prices have been coming down progressively, the recent module price drops again keep them way above market prices. Chinese cell and module manufacturers that are not on the MIP list end up paying duties of up to 64.9%.
The MIP was introduced after the EU slapped anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures for Chinese solar panels, wafers and cells in 2013. These were then extended in March 2017 by another 18 months.
Several experts had expected that the EC would give green light to an expiry review by Sept. 3, which would have extended the trade measures again for the review time. But two reasons have apparently convinced the EC and the member states to opt for a termination of the MIP. First, there was constant and heavy lobbying from SolarPower Europe, the European solar sector association, for access to low cost solar modules as a key component of solar systems. The lobby group said in its solar job study in 2017 that if the trade measures were to be removed, 45,500 jobs could be created in Europe in a year’s time; simply because lower cost systems would trigger demand, which would result in more jobs. Moreover, the current macroeconomic climate has been playing in the hands of those looking for a termination of the MIP. The quickly aggravating trade conflict between China and the US is bringing Europe and China closer together. With solar being a key technology for China, but not high at all on the agenda of most governments in the EU, where the last two big module manufactures – Jabil and SolarWorld – folded a few months ago despite MIP protection, showing good will from the European side makes sense in this context.
Most big Chinese companies have opted out of the MIP in the recent past, including Trina Solar, JA Solar, JinkoSolar and Suntech, after setting up production facilities in Vietnam, Thailand or Malaysia, from where they can sell modules to the EU at market prices. Recently, LONGi from China secured MIP exemption for its products manufactured out of its Malaysian fab into the European Union (see LONGi Gets Exemption From EU MIP).