Fabian Demicoli

Imposition of duties on PVs and key components originating from China


GRTU
has invited importers of PVs and key components originating in China to discuss
with GRTU and Government officials the investigations launched by the EU
Commission and how these will affect them. The aim of the meeting was to inform
interested operators of the possible upcoming changes and give direct feedback
to Government in order to reflect the views of SMEs when presenting Malta's
views and arguments.

What
products are concerned?

The Economic Policy Division
explained to importers of the European Commission's plans on introducing both
an anti-dumping and an anti-subsidy duty on imports of solar panels and their
key components, i.e. solar cells and solar wafers. In order to produce a solar
panel, solar wafers are converted into cells and then cells are assembled
together into modules, i.e. panels. Some producers have integrated production
covering all three segments, whilst others produce only wafers, cells and/or
modules.

The
products concerned are classifiable under the following Combined Nomenclature
(CN) codes: 85414090; 85013100; 85013200; 85013300; 85013400; 85030090;
38180100; 38180010; 8501 33 00; 85016120; 85016180; 85016200; 85016300 and
85016400.

Origination
of complaint

The
investigations were launched late this year following a complaint by EU ProSun,
an ad hoc association representing more than 20 European companies producing
solar panels and their key components. Their collective output represents more
than 25% of Union production. EU ProSun claims that solar panels imported from China benefit from unfair government
subsidies and are sold at a cost lower than the market price in order to
enter the European market at prices below market value, making their prices
much lower than those of the EU industry and gain a dominant position on the
market. In terms of import value affected, this is the most significant
anti-dumping complaint the European Commission has received so far: in 2011,
China exported solar panels and their key components worth around €21 billion
to the EU. 

Timeline

The investigation takes 15 months but
if the Commission investigation concludes that the situation is leading to
injury of the EU industry and that the imposition of measures does not go
against overall Community Interest, provisional measures will be implemented
within 9 months of the initiation of the investigation (6th June 2013 for
anti-dumping measures and 5th August 2013 for anti-subsidy
measures). If the Commission decides on imposing definite measures,  both anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures
would be imposed on 5th December 2013 these would be applicable for
5years (6th June 2013 for anti-dumping measures and 5th August 2013
for anti-subsidy measures)

Duties

As
soon as the measures are imposed, imports, whether from China of from the EU
which are China originating, will become subject to a duty on import making
such products much more expensive to sell and possibly unsustainable.
Information to date is that anti-dumping duty will amount to 60-70% for
modules, 70-80% for cells and 80-90% for wafers.

Maltese
Imports

Maltese imports of such systems
originating from China are significant and amount to over 30% of total imports
which amounted to almost €3 million in 2011.

Position of
Importers

Importers acknowledge the price
difference between EU and China originating PVs and the absolute majority of
importers of China originating systems also import EU originating systems in
order to offer products at different prices, provide more choice to the
consumer and be more competitive. There is a concern among importers of such
systems that should the duties be imposed, consumers that afford to spend less
will have very limited choice or will have to choose not to invest in such
systems because they would be too expensive for them.

Importers also reported that their EU
suppliers tell them that in order to remain competitive and maintain presence
in the market they sell at low profit prices and sometimes even at a loss. If
the duties are imposed China originating systems will probably become more
expensive than EU products and the EU industry will most likely increase their
prices to a level with which they are more comfortable. It is pertinent to note
that this is already a relatively expensive technology and further increases
will mean that consumers will get smaller systems and lesser return for the money
they invest compared to today.

The duties will not only be imposed
on finished systems but also on parts and components such as wafers. This rules
out the possibility of at least having the assembly of PVs taking place in the
EU, which Maltese operators would be very interested to look into. The process
of producing the wafers involved high energy consumption, thus manufacturing
such parts in Malta would be unsustainable simply due to our high electricity
rates and burden our energy providers.

GRTU
and its members believe such impositions are not in the interest of the local
industry and consumers. Any duties imposed would mean unnecessary extra costs
upon EU consumers and these would outweigh any benefits to European producers.

Background

China is the world's largest producer of solar panels.
Approximately 65% of all solar panels are produced in China. The EU is China's
main export market, accounting for around 80% of all Chinese export sales. In
terms of import value affected, this is the most significant anti-dumping
complaint the European Commission has received so far: in 2011, China exported
solar panels and their key components were worth around €21 billion to the EU.

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