SolarWorld ups the ante in global solar trade war

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:01am EDT

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FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - German group SolarWorld said it may take steps against alleged price dumping by Chinese rivals in Europe after its U.S. unit filed a complaint, the latest move in the solar trade war.

"We are currently reviewing several options for how to throw this forward over here," SolarWorld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck told Reuters on Thursday.

SolarWorld Industries Americas said on Wednesday it had filed a complaint on behalf of seven U.S. solar panel makers, asking for duties on Chinese solar products.

The U.S. solar companies said Chinese producers can aggressively undercut U.S. prices because they receive cash grants and other subsidies in China.

"The EU has to wake up now to make sure we are having fair competition over here, too," Asbeck said.

Western sector players have criticized Chinese solar companies for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices, while European players struggle to refinance.

Chinese solar companies such as Suntech, Yingli and JA Solar have in the past secured generous loans via the China Development Bank (CDB).

In late 2010, the U.S.-based United Steelworkers union (USW) had already blamed China's aid to its solar industry for creating a supply glut that drove down panel prices 40 percent in 2009 and pushed American competitors out of the market.

Carsten Koernig, managing director of the German solar industry association BSW said the massive price declines in the solar industry were "not a result of innovation but of uneven political conditions."

SolarWorld's Asbeck last month said there was no fair competition in the solar industry, adding that the Chinese government had made credit guarantees of more than 21 billion euros to its solar companies in 2011 alone.

Shares in SolarWorld were up 3.5 percent by 1100 GMT, the second-biggest gainer in Frankfurt's technology index. Silvia Quandt analyst Sebastian Zank said that the move to file claims in the United States should improve sentiment on the stock, which is down nearly 60 percent year-to-date.

(Editing by Dan Lalor and Elaine Hardcastle)

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