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British Rubber & Polyurethane Products Association

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Fears of job losses over solar trade war

Posted on 26 February 2013

Import tariffs on solar panels from China, if implemented, could cause
the loss of 809,300 jobs in Europe, according to a new study, but its
results are hotly disputed.

The study says that up to €9.64bn and 234,800 jobs could go this year
alone if the European Commission decides to go ahead with slapping
import tariffs on Chinese solar photovoltaic modules.

The EU is currently investigating whether China unfairly subsidises
its solar panel industry to undermine the European market by selling
them at below cost price. Almost two thirds (65%) of all modules
installed in Europe are made in China.

The study has been presented as evidence to the enquiry by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) and was conducted by the German consultancy Prognos.

Reaction to the study has been divided. European manufacturers, led by ProSun,
an alliance of solar panel manufacturers in Europe, support the
tariffs, but installers of solar systems, represented by AFASE, who
employ far more people than the manufacturers, are horrified.

"We’ve heard it all before," said Milan Nitzchcke, vice president of
ProSun. "What happened in the US already disproves the claims made by
AFASE and Prognos. None of the negative effects predicted by China took
place,” he said. “What remains important is that we respect
international trade standards and punish illegal competitors for
subsidising their own markets, as has been observed in China.”

Nitzschke sees AFASE as a Chinese-funded organisation, and therefore
biased. “It is quite cynical to use the labour market argument on a day
when two major European solar manufacturers had to declare insolvency.
The Chinese dumping policy harms the whole solar industry and has
already caused thousands of people to lose jobs and over 30 bankruptcies
and closures of factories,” he said.

ProSun has asked the Commission to impose tariffs of up to 120%
stating this would allow EU producers to operate profitably. “Fair
competition benefits everybody. We need anti-dumping measures in the EU
as soon as possible,” Nitzschke added.

The study claims that 80% of the European PV sector will suffer from
significant "reductions in labour and gross value" between 2013 and 2015
should the tariffs be imposed. This could lead to a further 274,400 job
losses in 2014, followed by 300,200 the next year.

 

Source: Link2Portal