China accuses Europe of favoring domestic solar providers

Such accusations often go the other way around. But Beijing can play this game too. Especially with the world's biggest solar market at stake.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor
Holy solar, Batman! German solar panels power the Vatican. Italy and Germany are the world's biggest users of solar electricity. Europe is the largest market, and China wants a fair playing field.


When it comes to western nations, China, renewable energy and trade accusations, more often than not it's the West protesting that China is engaging in unfair practices.

But Beijing can play the game too as did last week, when it complained to the World Trade Organisation that the European Union had breached world trade rules because Italy and Greece had unfairly favored domestic solar panel providers, the Guardian reported.

"The crux of its complaint centered on offers by Rome and Athens of  higher electricity prices to solar power producers that use mainly locally sourced components," the article states. Europe is the world's largest solar market, so China wants to make sure the playing field is level. About 60 percent of China's solar exports went to Europe last year, representing seven percent of all Chinese exports to the region, according to Bloomberg.

The complaint starts a process that gives China and the EU 60 days to reach an agreement, after which the WTO could adjudicate, the article notes.

It came just days after a separate assertion by China that Europe was unfairly subsidizing solar panel components like polysilicon. In that case, China is considering blocking European imports.

It also came days before the U.S. International Trade Commission slapped tariffs on Chinese solar manufacturers because, the ITC said, China was unfairly subsidizing manufacturers who were then selling at less than fair value in the U.S.

EU countries have also accused China of dumping low-priced solar gear in Europe - the world's largest solar market - in part to alleviate an oversupply.

Photo: SolarWorld AG via European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

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