This was followed in April by the launching of an anti-subsidy investigation into the same product subsequent to a complaint filed by the same complainant.
The type of solar glass that is the subject of the investigation is originally made of extraclear flat glass, either float or patterned glass, and is then processed to give it specific properties for solar applications. Glass for Europe member companies extensively manufacture the primary material flat glass in Europe and, some of its members, also process glass for solar applications. Glass for Europe as well as a number of its member companies are therefore directly concerned by the investigations. The EU industry has suffered and continues to suffer from the injurious trade practices by Chinese producers and has drastically reduced production and undertaken severe restructuring programmes at a number of their European manufacturing facilities.
- Glass for Europe supports the position set out by the complainant and is of the view that state-supported domestic Chinese solar glass producers have been rapidly and unfairly gaining market share in the EU through injurious trade practices.
- Glass for Europe believes that it is in the European Union’s interest to impose measures on solar glass imports originating from China with a view to restoring fair competition and to allow the EU solar glass industry to continue to develop sustainably and make available innovative solar glass products.
Europe’s position in the race for green technologies requires fair competition
In parallel to the solar glass investigations, it is reported that the European Commission has recently decided to impose substantial provisional duties on Chinese imports of solar panels into the European Union. This decision and the level of duties illustrate the scale of disruption to the whole solar value-chain by injurious dumping practices from State supported Chinese manufacturers.
The manufacturing of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and its key components in Europe was expected to become an industrial flagship for Europe, illustrating how the EU’s climate & energy policies could become drivers of sustainable growth. Although Europe’s glass industry has heavily invested in research and development to increase the technological properties of its solar products and to manufacture these innovative products in Europe, it is now harmed by unfair competition from even lower priced (dumped) Chinese imports.
Thousands of manufacturing jobs and Europe’s ‘know-how’ in green technologies is threatened by these unfair trade practices. A loss of know-how will ultimately jeopardize Europe’s leading position in innovative green technologies. Such an evolution thoroughly contradicts all objectives the European Union has set for itself and would seriously undermine not only the EU’s objectives, but public support for these policies.
- Glass for Europe agrees that trade defense instruments need to be used carefully and objectively. In the case of solar-energy, evidence is there for the European Union to use trade instruments and cease unfair trade practices by Chinese producers, as these practices threaten the EU’s core economic and sustainability strategy.
- More generally, the European Union needs to ensure that European-based industries which are investing and making possible Europe’s transition towards a low carbon economy can enjoy a level-playing field to compete with third country producers and are protected against injurious and unfair trade practices that harm sustainable growth, innovation and employment in the EU.
Call for actions
For the above reasons, Glass for Europe calls upon the European Commission to act upon the evidence put forward in the solar glass complaint and to take its decision independently of negotiations on other trade cases.
Glass for Europe also calls on the European Commission to look for a new balance in its environmental, climate, re-industrialization and trade policies² so as to ensure that Europe’s low carbon enabling industries can compete on equal and fair terms with non-EU producers and suppliers.
About Glass for Europe
Glass for Europe is the trade association for Europe’s manufacturers of flat glass. Flat glass is the material that goes into a variety of end-products and primarily in windows and façades for buildings, windscreens and windows for automotive and transport as well as glass covers, connectors and mirrors for solar-energy equipments. Flat glass is also used for many other applications such as furniture, electronics, appliances, etc.
Glass for Europe has four members: AGC Glass Europe, NSG-Group, Saint-Gobain Glass and Sisecam-Trakya Cam and works in association with Guardian. Altogether, these five companies represent 90% of Europe’s flat glass production.
² Such a new balance is sought by the European Commission in its October 2012 communication ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’, COM(2012)582/3. It needs to be fully implemented following assessments of competitiveness drivers across various industries.