China's solar glass a trade issue

BEIJING, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- In yet another wrinkle in the solar trade war with China, a consortium of European manufacturers filed an anti-dumping complaint with the European Commission against solar glass from China.

The group, ProSun Glass, said in a statement that while demand in Europe for solar glass has increased 5 percent since 2010, Chinese imports have more than tripled.


ProSun Glass also says that Chinese manufacturers have a solar glass production capacity of 400 million square meters, with excess capacity more than eight times that of European consumption.

"To make some use of this incredible overcapacity, Chinese producers are dumping their solar glass on the EU market at prices which do not even cover the costs of the raw materials," ProSun Glass President Ulrich Frei said in a statement.

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"Of course, this means that the Chinese producers are incurring heavy losses on their sales of solar glass but these are apparently covered by the Chinese government."

Their European counterparts who have to follow market economy rules "are being seriously injured by the unfair competition," Frei said.

The United States launched anti-dumping and countervailing investigations into China-made solar cells and modules in 2011, imposing anti-dumping tariffs of up to 249.96 percent and countervailing duties of up to 15.97 percent in a final ruling of the International Trade Commission last November.

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The European Union launched its own anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panels in September and began an anti-subsidy investigation in November.

The ProSun Glass complaint follows an announcement last Friday that the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, from the United States, was pursuing legal action to challenge the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision not to investigate Chinese subsidies of rolled glass.

EU ProSun, a separate coalition with different corporate supporters than ProSun Glass, said it supports the complaint.

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"The new case shows that China's strategy to dominate the solar sector is not limited to just solar modules but also affects materials like glass," EU ProSun President Milan Nitzschke said in a statement. "It's a question of time when equipment and raw material manufacturers will follow."

EU ProSun says it represents the majority of EU solar cells, modules and panels production.

The trade war is taking a toll on China's solar manufacturing sector.

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China Daily reported last month that China's solar export value would be around $2.08 billion for 2012, down 40 percent from a year earlier.

Wang Bohua, secretary-general of China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance told the newspaper that more than half of Chinese small and medium-sized solar manufacturers have suspended production because of the U.S. and EU investigations.


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