BEIJING, July 30 (UPI) -- A Chinese government official has denounced a complaint filed with the European Commission by European solar panel makers, led by Germany's SolarWorld, seeking import tariffs on Chinese-made solar products.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce official, speaking to Xinhua news service on condition of anonymity, called the solar dumping allegations "groundless."
"Thanks to low prices of raw materials and technological progress, Chinese solar products are more price competitive than European Union ones. That's not dumping, as accused by some European companies," the official said.
EU ProSun, a coalition of more than 20 European solar companies that filed the complaint, says the European solar sector "is being decimated" by unfair competition from China.
"EU manufacturers have the world's best solar technologies but are beaten in their home market due to illegal dumping of Chinese solar products below their cost of production," the group said in a statement confirming the anti-dumping case with the European Commission.
Chinese companies have captured more than 80 percent of the EU market for solar products from virtually zero only a few years ago, said EU ProSun.
The group cited recent determinations by the United States government that 12 categories of Chinese subsidies for its solar manufacturers were illegal and that Chinese exporters dumped solar cells in the U.S. at margins between 30 and 250 percent.
Those decisions -- which came after complaints filed with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Commerce Department by a coalition of U.S. solar manufacturers, also spearheaded by SolarWorld's U.S. arm -- confirm the existence of China's unfair trade practices, EU ProSun said.
The group warned that significant trade defense measures in the European Union were likely, especially because Chinese exports could be diverted to the European Union as a result of the U.S. government's determinations.
But a joint statement by China's four major solar panel makers -- Yingli, Suntech, Trina and Canadian Solar -- rejected the dumping allegations and urged the government to take "necessary measures to protect our legitimate rights and interests."
"The EU should be very clear that any kind of limit on market liberalization may destroy the balanced development of the photovoltaic industry, hinder energy reform and undermine global efforts to fulfill long-term energy-saving and emissions-reduction goals," the statement said.
The four Chinese companies say that almost 60 percent of China's solar exports, worth $35.8 billion, were shipped to the European Union in 2011. Such trade with Chinese panel makers has directly or indirectly helped to create an estimated 300,000 upstream and downstream jobs, Arthur Chen, legal counsel at Yingli, told Recharge News.