The ongoing spat between China and Europe is heating up. In response to Europe imposing tariffs on Chinese solar panel manufacturers, China has started to target (“investigate”) southern European Wine Exports. Now, here in France that’ll touch a nerve, just when we finally get some sun.
Interesting. There’s a bit of deja vu here.
Europe claims Chinese manufacturers of solar panels are selling them below manufacturing cost, in other words, they’re dumping their product on Europe and killing local manufacturing. The European commission is claiming 25, 000 jobs are at risk without the imposed tariffs. Jobs are something Europe needs desperately. In the press there’s conflicting information on the real tariffs. Obviously, they’re in serious posturing/spin mode. Bloomberg, says tariffs as high as 67.5%, Reuters is reporting that they’ve created a ‘initial duty’ of 11.8%.
Last October the US Commerce Department did essentially the same thing (New York Times). Solar has been a political hot potato for the Obama administration. It surprises me that China wasn’t more sensitive to this risk, if they are in fact dumping. So almost a year later they’re taking on Europe. Or Europe has decided to react, depending how you look at it. In either case, it’s a very aggressive stance, and a bigger deal than most people realize.
This US-China Market Review from last Spring, articulates the strategic importance that China places on its Solar Industries.
China is prepared to invest RMB 3 ($480 billion) in the clean energy and energy conservation/environmental protection sectors over the next five years.
As well as its agressive stance:
To hold an advantageous position in future international competition, we must accelerate the fostering and development of strategic emerging industries, control the key and core technologies and related intellectual property rights, and enhance our capability for independent development.
It looks to me like China’s success has been putting pressure on both the US and Europe. Is it possibly the West has failed to innovate around renewable energy and now they’ve decided to rely on protectionist tariffs? Throw in the towel? If that’s the case, it’s hypocritical at best.
Or is China being too aggressive and dumping product to secure a monopoly in renewable energy? They’ve staked these industries out as strategic, and have admittedly a cancer causing reliance on Coal and Oil. I can see why China’s investing heavily. I can also see why they’re fuming. But hitting French wine…
I’ve been intrigued for a few years with solar companies, you can see my early posts on First Solar. So considering the latest spat, I was wondering if Chinese solar companies are trading differently than, First Solar (FSLR) for example.
The answer is: not really.
So is there a trade here? It’s worth thinking about…