(Bloomberg) -- China urged its solar manufacturing giants to “resolutely protect” their rights and interests amid an expected wave of more severe and complex trade conflicts as countries step up efforts to protect their own domestic industries.
In addition to traditional trade barriers like anti-dumping investigations, more nations are now setting up additional hurdles including policies based on human rights issues and carbon footprint tracing to make importing goods more difficult, Wang Xin, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, said at the China Photovoltaic Industry Association’s annual conference on Wednesday.
Wang asked Chinese solar companies to work with foreign solar industry associations to protect the global supply chain for clean energy equipment, while also developing new technologies to maintain their competitive edge. He also urged the firms to make good use of legal and lobbying mechanisms when faced with trade disputes and false allegations.
“We should dare to fight, and be good at fighting,” Wang said.
China dominates global solar panel manufacturing, and its leading companies have turned into multi-billion dollar export giants. But a growing number of countries including the US and India are trying build competing domestic sectors as climate targets and pricey fossil fuels cause demand for clean energy to surge.
The US in particular has put China’s solar industry in trade crosshairs, including investigating whether Chinese companies circumvented tariffs by building factories in Southeast Asia. In June, new disruptions began when the US began enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bars all goods made in Xinjiang unless they can prove they are produced without forced labor. Xinjiang is home to much of the solar industry’s silicon production and refining capacity. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied the forced labor allegations, labeling them as an attempt to undercut Chinese businesses.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.