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Risk of trade war looms as solar panel dispute heads to EU (2)

By Song Shengxia (Global Times)

08:37, July 27, 2012

"The latest case is similar to the one filed in the US, but the impact will be bigger if the EU decides to launch the probe since the EU is the largest importer of China's solar product exports," Gao Hongling, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance (CPIA), told the Global Times.

In 2011, close to 60 percent of China's total solar product exports, which were worth $35.8 billion, were shipped to the EU, the four companies said in the statement. The percentage was higher in previous years.

If the duties are imposed on Chinese solar panels, Yingli and other Chinese makers will be forced to move their production base from China to countries not subject to anti-dumping duties such as Vietnam and Africa to reduce costs, Wang Yiyu, Yingli's chief strategy officer told reporters Thursday.

"Protectionist measures would increase the cost of solar energy in Europe and delay the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Tariffs would also destroy thousands of jobs in the European solar industry," Jerry Stokes, President of Suntech Europe, said Wednesday.

The EU solar industry provides employment for around 300,000 people and more than 80 percent are employed in upstream and downstream industries such as raw material suppliers, equipment manufacturing and system design, according to statistics from Suntech Europe.

There will be 45 days in which the EU can decide whether to accept the case and launch the probe, after it receives the complaint from the European companies, Yingli's general counsel Arthur Chen told the Global Times.

"But it would be stupid to risk losing 300,000 jobs along the supply chain of the solar industry in Europe to save just 10,000 jobs in the mid-stream of the industry," Chen said.

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