Europe's solar-panel manufacturers made a formal trade filing against Chinese competitors in July.
Today, the EU decided to launch an investigation into the Europe-China PV panel anti-dumping case.
The original trade complaint was filed with the European Commission, the EU's trade body, and like Germany's SolarWorld complaint in the U.S., it accuses China's solar panel manufacturers like Suntech (Nasdaq: STP), Yingli, and Trina of dumping their products in the EU at prices below their cost. There is a long list of European (centrotherm, Q-Cells, Soltecture, Odersun, Inventux, Solar Millennium, solarhybrid, and Sovello) and American solar manufacturers that have declared some measure of insolvency due to the onslaught of low-cost Chinese solar panels.
Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE), a firm that could finish 2012 as the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, issued this statement:
[T]he anti-dumping complaint filed at the European Commission in July this year is unfounded. Today, the European Commission has announced the opening of an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar products. [...] We will closely cooperate with the European Commission in order to prove that the conditions for the imposition of punitive tariffs are not fulfilled. [...] We constantly meet the highest standards of international trade practices. We are fully transparent with our funding sources and cost structure.
Germany's SolarWorld launched an arguably successful U.S. anti-dumping trade claim against China in solar PV modules through SolarWorld America in October of last year. It resulted in 34 percent tariffs on panels from the major Chinese manufacturers.
China has responded to the U.S. with potential trade barriers to American polysilicon, the feedstock upon which silicon solar panels are based. Trade on rare earth elements could be impacted.
An article in the New York Times notes that "The EU trade case differs from the American action in that the European case will most likely be limited to an anti-dumping complaint, without including an anti-subsidy charge, the people familiar with the dispute said." The article also said, "The Union also takes longer than the United States to investigate such cases. Preliminary tariffs could be imposed in Europe next May, and final tariffs would not be set until December of next year."
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "Germany would ask the EU Commission to waive the anti-dumping probe wanted by EU ProSun" and urged the Chinese to stop price dumping, according to DE. ProSun is the EU equivalent of CASM. CASM-backer SolarWorld, the winner of the U.S. tariff battle, had a very rough first-half earnings report, along with other travails, as reported by Molly Young in OregonLive.