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Beijing 'regrets' EU solar decision

By Du Juan, Li Jiabao and Fu Jing (China Daily)

08:02, September 07, 2012

Beijing "deeply regrets" the decision by the European Commission to launch an investigation into the alleged dumping of solar panel products.

The probe is expected to damage the industry globally.

China exported nearly $26 billion of solar panels and products to Europe last year.

"China deeply regrets that the European Commission decided to start the probe, even though the country has called many times to solve the problem through discussions and cooperation," Shen Danyang, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement on Thursday.

"Restricting China's solar panel products will not only hurt the interests of both Chinese and European industry, it will also undermine the healthy development of the global solar and clean energy sector."

He urged the European Union to scrap protectionist measures and not to introduce new protectionist trade and investment policies before 2014.

The EU statement said the investigation is expected to last 15 months. But "it is possible according to trade defense rules to impose provisional anti-dumping duties within 9 months, provided there is sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping''.

Chinese manufacturers of solar — or photovoltaic — panels have denied that China was providing any illegal subsidies, noting that the industry is in the midst of a radical transition as the cost of products drops.

There were warnings that Beijing will retaliate.

The case will be the largest trade dispute involving China, said Xu Ruilin, head of the Solar Industry Association in Jiangsu province, where most major solar companies are located.

The investigation came after a complaint by a group of European solar companies in July led by Germany's SolarWorld AG. The company also started anti-dumping and subsidy cases concerning China's solar panel exports to the US in October 2011.

The US Commerce Department in May levied tariffs against several Chinese manufacturers, alleging they sold their products below cost.

China exports $35.8 billion of solar products last year.

The EU move is a blow against China's solar industry, said Zhou Shijian, a senior trade expert at Tsinghua University.

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