* Beijing lodges complaint with world trade body
* Argues pricing in Greece, Italy favoured local firms
* EU, Japan brought similar case against Canada
By Tom Miles and Michael Martina
GENEVA/BEIJING, Nov 5 China opened a second
front in a solar power war with Europe on Monday, lodging a
complaint with the World Trade Organization to challenge
policies that Beijing argues favour firms in Italy and Greece.
Days after warning that it could put punitive tariffs on
European Union exports of solar-grade polysilicon, a key raw
material for solar power, China said Italy and Greece broke WTO
The two EU states offered a higher electricity price to
solar power producers that used mainly locally sourced
components, it said.
While details of China's suit have yet to emerge, it appears
to be the same complaint that the EU and Japan have brought
against Canada - with the WTO expected to rule against Canada.
"The Chinese government has the right and the responsibility
to fight for a fair international trade environment for China's
solar industry," Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen
Danyang said in a statement.
Shen said all countries should strengthen industry
cooperation and eschew short-term "protectionist" measures.
By lodging its complaint, China triggers the formal process
for a WTO dispute and, if talks with the EU fail to resolve the
issue, after 60 days it could ask the global trade body to
Solar power has struggled to compete with other fuels
without government support, a fact that drove oversupply in the
industry, a collapse in profitability and accusations of
governments cheating on trade rules to protect their own
Awash with spare inventory, Chinese firms slashed prices 30
percent this year, exacerbating European suspicions that Chinese
export prices are set deliberately low to torpedo their rivals
in the EU, the world's largest market for solar products.
About 60 percent of China's exports of solar panels and
components went to the EU in 2011, generating 21 billion euros
($27 billion) and accounting for 7 percent of all Chinese
exports to the region.
Chinese producers include Yingli Green Energy,
Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd and Trina Solar Ltd
A group of 25 European companies, led by Germany's
SolarWorld, filed a complaint with the European
Commission in September, claiming Chinese rivals were unfairly
benefiting from illegal subsidies, helping to stimulate
production to more than 20 times Chinese consumption and close
to double global demand.
The United States levelled steep final duties on
Chinese-made solar products in October, a move Beijing warned
would provoke greater trade frictions in the new energy sector.
The EU is considering slapping similar punitive import
duties on suspected under-priced Chinese solar panels, by far
the biggest import sector ever targeted by such an
Although such punitive tariffs - whether in China, the EU or
the United States - could alleviate the pain for the companies
involved, they could eventually drive up the cost of solar
power, making it a less attractive energy source for consumers.