Business / Solar firms warned on delisting

Workers at solar companies cancel protests on EU trade action

By Meng Jing ( Updated: 2012-08-02 14:09

BAODING, Hebei – A scheduled worker protest initiated by China's four largest solar panel companies was called off this morning. But their standing against the recent filing of a complaint of dumping of Chinese solar panels in Europe remains firm.

More than 10,000 employees at Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co, Trina Solar Ltd, Canadian Solar Inc and Suntech Power Holdings were scheduled to stop work on Thursday morning for an hour-long demonstration against the complaint filed to the Europe Commission over China-made solar products last week.

The complaint has asked the European Union to investigate claims that Chinese panel makers of dumping goods, seeking import tariffs on Chinese-made panels.

Baoding-based Yingli Green Energy in North China's Hebei province cited bad weather as the reason for the cancellation of the scheduled protest between 8 am and 9 am, but saying they will continue to urge Beijing to have high-level talks with the European Union in order to stop the investigation from beginning.

The European Commission has 45 days (till early September) to decide if it will start an investigation.

"We had to cancel it (the protest) due to the unpleasant weather condition in Jiangsu and Hainan provinces. But it doesn't change our standing against the complaint, which will be catastrophic not only for us but also for the development of the global solar industry, " said Liang Tian, director of public relations with Yingli Green Energy, adding around 5,000 to 6,000 workers in his company's five plants across China were expected to join the protest.

Liang said the company, which exports more than half of its products to the Europe, is going through a tough time but it has no plan to cut off jobs or lower salaries to workers for now.

The scheduled protest is the latest outcry from the four top solar panel markers in China, which had a joint news conference in Beijing last Thursday against the complaint led by German's biggest solar panel company Solarworld AG.

According to the joint statement from the news conference, the solar industries in China and Europe are "interdependent".

Europe's exports of solar-related raw materials and production equipments to China were around $7.5 billion in 2011. As many as 280,000 to 300,000 jobs in Europe have been created by China's solar industry directly or indirectly by the end of 2011, said the statement.

"The damage to China's solar industry is the damage to the solar industry of the world," said Liang.

The US Department of Commerce has ruled that China's solar panel makers dumping goods and receiving unfair subsidies in May. In recent days, the Chinese government has initiated the process of paying back the US in the same coin by starting an investigation of US polysilicon imports.

Chen Zhuo, Yingli Green Energy's legal director, said their top priority is to stop the complaint from proceeding. "Once it starts investigation, it will be the largest anti-dumping case in China," said Chen, adding around 60 percent of China's $35.8 billion worth export of solar panels in 2011 was to the Europe.

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