Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Brussels — The European Commission has softened its proposal to extend antidumping duties on Chinese solar panels, acknowledging opposition from most EU countries, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The commission, which oversees EU trade policy, recommends limiting the extension of measures to 18 months, from an original 24, and making clear that this period represents a final phasing out of duties in place since 2013.

The proposal will be put to a meeting of the EU’s 28 commissioners on Wednesday, a source said.

The commission faces a delicate balancing act between the interests of EU manufacturers and those benefiting from cheap imports with nervousness about the response from Beijing, seen as a possible partner in the fight against protectionism.

The EU and China came close to a trade war in 2013 over EU allegations of solar panel dumping by China.

To avoid that, they agreed to allow limited tariff-free imports of panels at a minimum price of €0.56 a watt, antidumping duties of up to 64.9% for those outside the agreement and antisubsidy duties capped at 11.5%.

Most EU countries last month opposed the commission’s plan to extend antidumping duties for another two years, putting pressure on the EU executive to soften its position. But the opposition from 18 countries fell short of a "qualified majority" required to block a Commission proposal as they do not represent a majority of the EU’s population.

EU governments backed a two-year extension of tariffs designed to counter subsidies. Now it is proposed that they would be extended for 18 months.

The commission also proposes to cut the minimum price for panels to €0.46 a watt, and steadily reducing it. The case is due to be settled by March 3.


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