Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Solar Firms in China Fear Onslaught of Challenges ; Trade and Profit Outlook Look Set to Deteriorate for Industry's Panel Makers

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Solar Firms in China Fear Onslaught of Challenges ; Trade and Profit Outlook Look Set to Deteriorate for Industry's Panel Makers

Article excerpt

A top industry official acknowledged decreasing profit margins, falling exports, lack of capital, protectionism and an unfavorable external environment.

China's solar panel manufacturers, who dominate global sales with a two-thirds market share, are confronting growing trade and financial problems, a Chinese industry official acknowledged Tuesday, shortly before one of the industry's largest companies, Trina Solar, announced weak results for the second quarter.

The Chinese manufacturers "face challenges of decreasing margins, decreasing exports, lack of capital, protectionism and an external environment that continues to deteriorate," said Chen Huiqing, the deputy director for solar products at the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.

The U.S. Commerce Department has already imposed preliminary anti- dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese solar panels totaling over 33 percent, although these tariffs are subject to further review by the department this autumn that could raise, lower or even repeal them. A coalition of solar manufacturers in Europe has asked the European Union to impose anti-dumping tariffs as well.

Ms. Chen, who was the lead speaker Tuesday morning at the Guangzhou International Solar Photovoltaic Exhibition here in southeastern China, said that a team of representatives from the Chinese industry is now in Brussels in an effort to persuade European officials not to start a trade investigation into Chinese solar panels in the coming weeks.

Trina Solar, one of the largest Chinese solar manufacturers, announced Tuesday that it had lost $92.1 million on sales of $346.1 million in the second quarter. Ferocious price wars in the industry eroded overall revenue, even as the volume, measured by wattage, of solar module shipments continued to increase.

Solar panel exports had soared over the past five years to become one of the largest single categories of China's highly diverse exports, representing a little over 1 percent of the total. The European Union, the leader in deploying solar panels through extensive government subsidies, buys five times as many solar panels from China as the United States, making the E. …

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