• Recent events: many companies quitted the undertaking
• Price undertaking: crumbling down
• MIP: no longer decisive
• Outcome trade case: expected Oct. ’16 – Mar. ’17
The EU Commission is currently in the process of investigating the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties for Chinese panels and cells through expiry reviews and an interim review. However, there have been quite some changes in the group of Chinese companies that operate under the conditions of the price undertaking.
• Jan. 28 ’16: The EU Commission officially confirmed Trina Solar’s exit from the Minimum Import Price (MIP) framework, announced in December ’15.
• Feb. 12 ’16: The Commission imposed import tariffs on Chinese producers that sell below MIP and export via Malaysia and Taiwan; however, 5 Malaysian and 22 Taiwanese producers have been expressly exempted from the duties.
• Jun. 29 ’16: Shinetime was withdrawn from the price undertaking, as the Chinese solar firm allegedly sold below the set MIP level.
• Aug. 17 ’16: Lerri Solar, DelSolar, CNPV, Motech and Xian Longi were all withdrawn from the undertaking.
• Aug. 23 ’16: Osda Solar, Qixin Solar and Shandong Linuo were also deemed to have breached the terms of the undertaking.
• Sept. 8 ’16: Jinko Solar announced its withdrawal from the undertaking.
As the world’s largest solar companies Trina Solar, Jinko Solar and Canadian Solar are no longer part of the price undertaking, the MIP-framework is totally crumbling down. Moreover, JA Solar is rumoured to soon quit from the undertaking as well.
In 2015 the prices of most brands, Asian or European, were situated around the MIP. During 2016 more capacity of Chinese Tier 1 players became available outside China: Vietnam, Thailand and Turkey. The MIP is therefore no longer decisive for price setting of Chinese and non-Chinese suppliers in Europe. Now the price level of the duty-free factories in South-East-Asia is determinant.
The outcome of the trade case is expected between October ’16 and latest March 4 ’17. The EU Commission only has following options:
(i) to end the duties and undertakings and to stop the investigations;
(ii) to maintain the duties and undertaking for a further period of maximum 5 years.
If it decides to maintain the duties and undertakings, the Commission will not be able to amend them other than possibly excluding cells. So in that case the duties and undertaking would only apply to panels.