* Chinese producers subject to restrictions since 2013
* Accused of shipping panels via Taiwan, Malaysia
* EU producers set to seek extension of restrictions
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, April 28 A group of European solar
panel producers has lodged a new complaint with EU regulators,
accusing Chinese rivals of trying to evade import tariffs by
shipping their products via third countries.
The European Commission set in place in 2013 an arrangement
allowing Chinese manufacturers to sell into the EU a limited
number of solar panels, wafers and cells at a minimum price,
following a complaint from the European group, EU ProSun.
EU ProSun, an association of EU producers, says its Chinese
rivals have been getting round this and selling at lower prices
by routing product via Taiwan and Malaysia, countries not
subject to tariffs.
Milan Nitzschke, the president of EU ProSun and a
vice-president of Germany's SolarWorld, told Reuters
up to 30 percent of Chinese solar imports bypass EU measures in
Dutch tax inspectors last month carried out searches at a
number of sites on suspicion an importer there had evaded duties
of 65 percent, or 1.2 million euros ($1.3 million), by bringing
in panels via free ports in Malaysia and Taiwan.
SolarWorld, which lodged the complaint, is asking the
Commission to launch an anti-circumvention investigation to cut
off these channels.
It is one of a number of actions EU ProSun is taking to ward
off what it says is a continued assault from Chinese rivals in
what has proved a politically charged tussle between China and
The group is asking the Commission to modify a mechanism
that has led to adjustments of the minimum price, generally
SolarWorld has also challenged the settlement at the
European Court of Justice in a series of cases, some brought
together with producers from Italy, Spain and Malta.
The Commission itself has monitored the undertaking and
proposed excluding three Chinese solar panel makers because of
alleged violation of the conditions, according to sources.
Some trade experts say the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF is also
conducting an investigation into the failure of some importers
to pay the requisite duties on panels brought in from China.
OLAF does not comment on ongoing investigations.
EU ProSun may not like the EU settlement with Chinese solar
module producers but says it will seek its renewal before it
expires in December. Otherwise, Chinese rivals would be able to
sell into the EU free of tariffs.
Its demand for a so-called expiry review would likely come
in September and, if accepted by the Commission, would mean the
undertaking and duties would extend for at least a year while
the review is processed.
Groups advocating greater trade of solar panels were not
immediately available for comment.
($1 = 0.9154 euros)
(Editing by Mark Potter)