A leading Chinese solar panel company and a domestic industrial association expressed opposition Thursday to a possible European Commission plan to register solar panel imports from China, saying the continued growth of trade barriers would hinder the development of clean energy and cost jobs in Europe.
"Our industry's mission is to make solar power affordable for everyone, and the continued growth of trade barriers will only delay the industry from fulfilling this," solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co said in a statement sent to the Global Times Thursday.
"Protectionist measures would increase the cost of solar energy in Europe, and adversely affect European jobs in the solar industry. As a global solar company, Suntech will continue to oppose unnecessary solar taxes and promote affordable solar energy everywhere," the statement said.
EU member states approved a plan Wednesday to register solar panel imports from China, Reuters reported Wednesday citing anonymous diplomatic sources.
The plan would allow duties to be imposed retroactively on Chinese companies if they are found to have sold solar panels at less than the manufacturing cost, the report said.
But the diplomatic sources did not disclose when the registration would begin, according to the report.
EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy confirmed with the Global Times in an e-mail Thursday that EU companies had requested that the imports of solar panels and their main components from China be subject to registration.
"Registration of imports of a certain product in trade defense procedures is nothing out of the ordinary. It simply allows the industry concerned to mark a reference date so that there can be an option for retroactive measures if the case concludes in their favor," Clancy said.
"The biggest loser in the solar dispute would be the EU instead of China because it would cut more jobs than the EU expects and increase the cost of power generation in the EU," Meng Xian'gan, vice president of the China Solar Energy Society, told the Global Times Thursday.
The EU announced in November an investigation into alleged State subsidies for Chinese solar panel manufacturers, following its decision in September to launch an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panel imports.
China exported solar panels worth $20.4 billion to the EU in 2011, accounting for about 60 percent of China's total solar panel exports, according to data from the European Commission.
In a report for the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy published Tuesday, European think tank Prognos said that if the EU imposes tariffs on solar panels from China, thousands of solar industry jobs could be lost in the UK and elsewhere in the EU.
In the UK, which sources the majority of its solar panels from China, the duties could result in extra costs of 3.46 billion pounds ($5.3 billion) and cut 38,600 jobs over a three-year period, and 242,000 jobs could be lost across Europe, the report said.