CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-Germany to support solar industry in anti-dumping action vs China

Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:01am EDT

(Corrects to show min will support planned industry suit not launch separate action)

BERLIN, July 20 (Reuters) - Germany's environment ministry said on Friday it would back solar firms' efforts to bring anti-dumping proceedings against China amid a bitter price war in the industry that has left many German panel producers fighting for survival.

Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told German broadcaster ZDF late on Thursday that there had to be fair competition in the global market and anti-dumping proceedings might be one way of ensuring this.

Altmaier recently suggested higher import duties as another way to prevent price dumping.

"It is also being looked into whether anti-dumping procedures can be launched against China," he said.

His ministry clarified on Friday that Altmaier meant he would support firms' efforts to file a suit with the European Commission.

Germany's once-booming solar panel makers are struggling to digest steep cuts in state support and increasing competition.

German firm Solarworld recently brought a suit with American firms in the United States against cheap Chinese imports, with a degree of success.

"In order to introduce such proceedings there must be a quorum of industry representatives, who bring a suit to the European Commission. This has not yet taken place. What the minister said yesterday was that he would support such a procedure," a spokeswoman told a government press conference.

According to commission regulations, companies accounting for at least 25 percent of total EU production of the product must file the proceedings.

Solarworld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck said Chinese firms were making losses but enjoyed financial support from the government. (Writing by Alexandra Hudson)