The European Union began their investigation this morning into allegations that Chinese solar companies have violated world trade agreements by “dumping” solar products on the global market.
The New York Times reports that, in terms of value, this is the “world’s biggest anti-dumping investigation.”
In 2011, Chinese solar products imported to Europe equated to 6.5 percent of all Chinese goods for a total value of $26.5 million.
European and American solar manufacturers have struggled to compete with Chinese solar product prices, prompting the U.S. to slap a hefty tariff on Chinese solar products earlier this summer.
The Times described the EU’s investigation as “unusually broad” in the sense that they are including individual solar components, like solar cells and wafers, in the investigation and not just completed solar panels. But the EU’s case does differ from the recent ruling by the U.S. Trade Commission; the US investigation included an anti-subsidy charge while the EU is only focusing on the anti-dumping allegations.
It’s likely this aspect of the investigation that is most troubling to China because if EU approves solar tariffs, it would severely limit Chinese manufacturers from sending solar components to Europe to be assembled into completed solar panels for sale.
China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman, Shen Danyang, issued a statement warning that should the EU rule in favor of solar tariffs, it will have a negative impact on clean energy’s global development. Danyang said China expressed “deep regret” over the investigation, which the country tried to prevent from occurring by applying diplomatic pressure and implying retaliation would result if the EU proceeded.
While China’s domestic solar market is thriving, it’s unlikely that the country’s thriving solar industry would continue to grow if the import business were to slow or die all together.