The European Union is all set to end its five-year-old restrictions on solar panel imports from China, stated officials on Monday. This takes place at the time when Brussels and Beijing increase their own trade cooperation in the face of protectionist measures from the US.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, suggested the decision would boost the bloc’s renewable energy goals as it rejected an appeal from the European solar industry to reconsider the move. The commission stated: “The EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on solar panels from China will expire today at midnight (2200 GMT).”
The duties had been imposed in 2013 by European panel manufactureres amidst complaints that they were being driven out of business by underpriced Chinese imports. Other European companies that install solar panel systems claimed the duties harmed them by increasing their overall costs.
Brussels stated that it was lifting the restrictions in the best interests of the EU as a whole, after weighing the needs of producers against those of users and importers of solar panels. The restrictions were imposed for two years in 2013, but then were extended for another 18 months in March last year, as opposed to the usual five years.
The commission stated that it has gradually adjusted the measures to allow prices of imports to align progressively with world market prices—adding that market conditions had not changed enough since then to justify extending the restrictions.
The commission billed the 2013 duties as an “amicable solution” to a dispute that had threatened to become a full-blown trade war. In 2017, EU figures showed bilateral trade to come about $597 bn, with the EU running a deficit of $203 bn.
As US President Donald Trump’s administration hits both the EU and China with tariffs as part of his “America First” policy, Brussels and Beijing have both increased trade cooperation and touted their free trade credentials.