UK solar suppliers are facing cancelled orders because of European Commission moves to require the registration of all solar products imported from China.

From today importers of solar modules, cells and solar wafers must specify at customs whether the products were imported from China or were produced mainly in China. Importers may pay duties on these products if retroactive measures are imposed by the EC.

The Commission will announce in early June whether to apply provisional anti-dumping duties and by early August on whether to impose preliminary countervailing levies. The duties would apply for five years. If tariffs are imposed, they can be collected 90 days retroactively, therefore from March 2013.

The current anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations in Brussels follow trade complaints filed by EU ProSun who represent at least 25% of the European solar industry.

Solar Power Portal understands that the uncertainty over Chinese products created by the new requirements has already led to orders being cancelled, with at least one supplier reporting the loss of a £200,000 contract for Chinese equipment.

A source close to the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE), which opposes the imposition of trade duties on Chinese products, confirmed that “many” manufacturers were reporting orders being cancelled on the back of this latest development. 

The Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy (AFASE) spokesperson Till Richter of Richter Solar pointed out that would make it possible for the EU to impose duties retroactively on solar products.

“Although registration, as such, does not mean that the EU will ultimately impose duties, the uncertainty it creates is already having a significant negative effect on the market,” stressed Richter. “This market intervention through registration is unwarranted given that imposing duties retroactively would contravene EU law, which expressly states that duties may be applied retroactively only where imports are sharply rising, which plainly they are not.

“SolarWorld and others wishing to close the EU market may benefit from creating market place uncertainty but the vast majority of us along the entire EU solar value chain oppose this illogical step.”

But Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun said: “Registration was positive for the US solar industry and American consumers. Therefore Chinese claims that anti-dumping duties will destroy EU jobs are absurd. After imposing duties on dumped imports from China the number of solar jobs in the United States has increased. This is the best proof that fair competition is better than state-planned economics.”