BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts on Friday warned of a possible trade war if the European Union imposes anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made solar products.
"No one will be a winner in a trade war. Both China and the EU should work to avoid it," said Meng Xiangan, deputy director of the China Renewable Energy Society.
The country's four major solar panel makers -- Yingli, Suntech, Trina and Canadian Solar -- issued a joint statement Thursday rejecting allegations that they have received illegal subsidies and dumped solar products in Europe and urging the government to take "necessary measures to protect our legitimate rights and interests."
"The EU should be very clear that any kind of limit on market liberalization may destroy the balanced development of the photovoltaic industry, hinder energy reform and undermine global efforts to fulfill long-term energy-saving and emission reduction goals," the statement said.
The companies' move came after Germany's SolarWorld and other European solar panel makers filed a complaint this week seeking import tariffs on Chinese-made products.
SolarWorld spearheaded a similar initiative in the U.S., leading the country to impose duties of about 31 percent on solar panel imports from China in May.
In response, China launched investigations into imported U.S. solar-grade polysilicon last week.
China will likely initiate anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes on EU-imported polysilicon if the EU decides to penalize Chinese solar companies, Meng said.
"There is nothing else China can do if the EU follows the precedent of the U.S. and imposes duties on Chinese solar products," said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The group denied that the Chinese government has provided any illegal subsidies to its own manufacturers, saying many U.S. and EU companies, as well as global industry associations, have agreed that SolarWorld filed the complaint primarily to ensure its own commercial interests and its allegations were groundless.
Jerry Stokes, president of Suntech Europe, said the company hopes the EU will recognize any protectionist measures will harm the entire European solar industry and that a misguided trade war will undermine years of progress.
"Protectionist measures will increase the cost of solar energy in Europe and delay the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Tariffs will also destroy thousands of jobs in the European solar industry," Stokes said.
The EU solar industry provides over 300,000 jobs for local people, and more than 80 percent of employees work in upstream and downstream industries, including raw material supplies, equipment manufacturing and system design.
Many overseas economic organizations and industry groups have voiced opposition to the imposing of duties on Chinese-made solar products.
On Thursday, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) announced that it has filed a formal letter of protest to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission against tariffs on Chinese photovoltaic cells and modules.
As the premier economic development group for the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area, GPEC said a solar tariff of 50 percent will result in the loss of 14,877 to 43,178 jobs by 2014.
The tariffs will not only force solar companies to alter their business models, but also make future Chinese investment in Arizona more challenging, according to GPEC President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Broome.
However, Meng said China must review its solar industry amid growing trade tensions with the U.S. and EU.
"Although the industry's woes have been partly caused by the global economic downturn, they are also a result of the industry's blind expansion in the past few years," he said.
Meng said the government should strengthen industry guidance, implement strict market access rules and control capacity and production.