By Madeleine Cuff – BusinessGreen – Chinese firm withdraws from minimum pricing scheme in protest at “misinterpretation” of trading rules following Commission’s decision to extend measures past expiry date
The world’s biggest solar panel manufacturer Trina Solar last week withdrew from an EU programme requiring Chinese manufacturers to sell their panels above a minimum price across the bloc, claiming the scheme was hampering its global expansion strategy and was putting Chinese firms at a disadvantage to other manufacturers.
Trina Solar was one of a number of Chinese manufacturers that agreed to participate in the EU’s Price Undertaking scheme in 2013, which set a minimum import price (MIP) for Chinese solar panels. By participating in the pricing scheme manufacturers avoided other duties brought in to discourage Chinese firms “dumping” cheap panels on the European market.
The scheme was due to expire last week but was extended after the European Commission launched a series of ‘Expiry Reviews’ into the use of the controversial rules.
The move means the pricing measures will remain in place throughout the review period, which could take up to 15 months.
Announcing its decision on Friday, Trina Solar said the move to extend the pricing scheme is “contrary to the principles of free and fair trade”, adding that the measures unfairly limit the firm’s growth potential within the EU.
In a strongly worded statement Trina Solar chief executive Jifan Gao said the extension misinterprets the rules and scope of the original measures.
“We believe the current MIP does not reflect the ongoing market trends in the solar sector, particularly as average selling prices in major markets continue to decline at a faster than expected rate, with downward pressure anticipated to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Consequently, the Chinese companies that are party to the UT have lost their competitiveness to their non-Chinese peers in selling to EU markets.”
Gao said Trina Solar would seek to sell to Europe outside of the MIP rules by manufacturing in factories outside China.
The company’s protest adds to the growing dissent over the measures, which critics say are artificially inflating the cost of solar power within the trading bloc. However, the measures have the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and an association of EU solar panel makers, which has long accused Chinese solar firms of selling panels at artificially low prices thanks to unfair levels of support from the country’s government.