BRUSSELS, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The European Union has removed Chinese solar panel maker Trina Solar and related companies from a scheme providing duty-free access to European markets after a request from the company.
The European Union concluded an investigation in 2013 into alleged dumping and illegal subsidies for Chinese solar panel producers by allowing a limited amount of panels and key components such as cells free of import duties, on condition of minimum prices.
Outside of that system, Trina would face anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of 44.7 and 3.5 percent.
Trina has said that the undertaking limited its growth potential in Europe and that a review by the European Commission into extending the period beyond an initial two years was contrary to the principles of free and fair trade.
Some companies, including Canadian Solar, ReneSola , have been removed from the undertaking, while others have voluntarily withdrawn.
Critics say this allows them to sell at even lower prices, even with the import tariff in place.
The European Commission’s inquiry into Chinese solar import panels in 2012-2013 was its biggest to date in terms of value. Imports of Chinese solar panels and related components into the European Union were some 21 billion euros ($22.9 billion) in 2011, though the market has since shrunk.
The case stemmed from a complaint lodged by a group of European companies led by Germany’s SolarWorld, which said Chinese competitors were dumping product on EU markets, propped up by hefty illegal subsidies.
Responding to the EU’s initial move to impose tariffs, China hit European wine producers with retaliatory duties and the trade dispute threatened to widen into other sectors, including steel.
China and the European Union eventually resolved the dispute in July 2013, with a deal allowing China to meet about half of Europe’s solar panel demand. ($1 = 0.9174 euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)