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WWF opposes EU duties on Chinese solar panels

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-30 03:04

BRUSSELS - A senior official with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Brussels said on Wednesday that the punitive tariffs the European Union plans to impose on solar panels imported from China are "insensitive, counter-jobs and counter green energy".

"WWF is fundamentally opposed to these punitive import tariffs on Chinese solar panels," said Stephen Singer, global policy director at the WWF branch in Brussels and also a well-known expert on energy issues.

"The cure of the problem has much greater impact than the cause of the problem," Singer added.

"There are closely three hundred thousand jobs in the entire solar supply chain in Europe, those which are not in the manufacturing sector provide the majority of jobs in the supply chain," Singer told Xinhua.

"We have some SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) who produce basic structural components which are exported to China and put in solar panels during manufacturing and re-exported to Europe, which leads to high price hike. These jobs might be at stake by the (European) Commission's decision," he added.

He explained the aim of trade row was "to prevent job losses and prevent certain companies from getting unjustified advantages in the markets."

"I don't think that is the case with Chinese solar panels because we still have quite substantial value chains back in Europe," he added.

Singer believes the import tariff is a wrong way, as it sends a wrong message to customers who wants to buy solar panels, and policy-makers who want a clean energy economy.

As regards the "illegal subsidies" claimed by the EU trade group Prosun, Singer said that before talking about subsidies in China, "let's address subsidies on fossil fuels first," he said.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report in February suggesting 550 examples of fossil fuel subsidies and government support measures in 34 member countries.

Singer claimed that subsidies on fossil fuels "basically dwarfs subsidies on solar".

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