1st July 2013
The European Commission is currently considering imposing an eye watering 47% duty on solar panels imported from China from 6th August 2013. This move is in response to accusations that China has been dumping (the practice of selling a product at less than the cost of production) solar cells onto the European market.
I have little doubt that the Chinese manufacturers were guilty of this practice when the matter was first brought to the attention of the Commission. The problem is that the Commission is two years too late. Chinese exports of solar cells and their components are now worth around €21 billion to the European economy. If the Commission pushes forward with this proposal then it may benefit a handful of German manufacturers, but it will put in jeopardy the entire solar sector, including companies in the South West.
I recently visited the Weymouth based DEK Printing Machines Ltd. DEK employs over 300 people in Dorset and is the leading manufacturer of equipment that is exported to China to build fuel and solar cells. The company is very concerned that if the EU starts on a trade war with China then the entire solar sector could face irreparable damage.
I would certainly hope that common sense prevails and that the Commission accepts that this battle has been lost. I wholeheartedly support efforts to try and protect businesses but it needs to respond far faster to protect jobs than it has here.
Neither China nor the EU can afford a trade war and this action on the part of the Commission is reckless. I hope this is dealt with quickly before thousands of jobs are lost and an entire industry ruined.