* SolarWorld confirms complaint by EU ProSun group
* Similar action led to punitive tariffs in U.S
* Europe divided; some companies welcome Chinese imports
By Michael Martina and Oliver Denzer
BEIJING/BRUSSELS, July 26 China's solar firms
warned of a trade war on Thursday, calling on the Chinese
government to strike back against an anti-dumping complaint
filed by rivals in Europe, but the Europeans said they would not
be put off by retaliation threats.
Companies led by Germany's SolarWorld have asked
the European Union to investigate claims that Chinese rivals had
been selling their products below market value in Europe.
The European Commission, which has declined to comment on
the issue, has 45 days to decide if it will start an
SolarWorld confirmed on Thursday the submission by the
so-called EU ProSun group, which comprises 25 members in
Germany, Spain, Italy and other EU countries. German solar
module maker Sovello is also part of the initiative.
A similar initiative was spearheaded by SolarWorld in the
United States, leading the world's largest economy to impose in
May duties of about 31 percent on solar panel imports from
"If the EU were to follow the precedent of the U.S. and
launch an anti-dumping investigation on Chinese solar products,
the Chinese solar industry would suffer a fatal blow," Yingli
Solar's chief strategy officer, Wang Yiyu, said.
"The investigation would also trigger a wholescale trade war
between China and the EU, which would cause huge losses to both
parties," he said at a briefing by leading Chinese solar
companies Yingli, SunTech, Trina and Canadian
"We call on the Chinese government to take all necessary and
resolute measures to protect the legitimate interests of the
Chinese solar industry."
Western solar companies have been at odds with their Chinese
counterparts for years, alleging that they receive lavish credit
lines to offer modules at cheaper prices, while European players
struggle to refinance.
German solar company Q-Cells became the most
prominent victim of an increasingly competitive market, filing
for insolvency for April. At least three other German solar
companies have filed for insolvency in recent months.
EU ProSun, in a visit to meet lawyers handling their case in
Brussels, said it would not be deterred by Chinese threats.
"A lot of companies who joined our initiative want to stay
anonymous because they fear retaliation, but that is not a
reason not to act," said Milan Nitzschke, SolarWorld's vice
president who is leading the EU ProSun group.
"It is a reason to act and defend against those threats," he
DIVISION IN EUROPE
But not all European solar companies back the complaint and
many say Europe should welcome Chinese imports because they make
solar power more affordable.
Close to 60 percent of China's solar exports, worth $35.8
billion, were shipped to the EU in 2011, the four Chinese
companies said. Europe accounted for 74 percent of global solar
installations in 2011, according to industry association EPIA.
Europeans against SolarWorld's move say the EU ProSun group
only represents a fraction of the solar industry.
"The majority of the industry would be the losers of an
initiative driven by only a few sector representatives," said
Till Richter, managing partner at Germany's Richter Solar.
"The backbone of the solar industry, small and middle-sized
local installers, developers, retailers, engineers and
maintenance technicians, would be at stake in case of
anti-dumping measures being imposed by the EU," Richter said in
a statement released by the Alliance for Affordable Solar
Nitzschke said EU ProSun did not claim to represent the
entire European solar industry, but rather those companies
willing to go ahead with a complaint.