TIANJIN, China (Reuters) - The outlook for the solar power industry is good and an anti-dumping trade row between the European Union and China is only a temporary barrier to growth, the chairman of Chinese solar panel maker Trina Solar Ltd said on Thursday.
His comments came a day after Trina said it would cut jobs in response to industry-wide pressures that have slashed solar panel prices and profit margins in the past two years, and wiped around a third from Trina’s share price in 2012.
Rapid expansion of manufacturing capacity has created a glut of panels, which has led the European Commission to launch an investigation into suspected dumping by Chinese manufacturers.
Those producers, which include Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, responded by saying the action risked starting a trade war, and its Commerce Ministry has said the inquiry would hurt the clean energy sector globally.
“After the European Union launched anti-dumping investigation, there emerges rising concerns about the mounting challenges and pressure on the future development of the solar industry,” Gao Jifan told the World Economic Forum meeting in the eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin.
Solar panels are the biggest import sector ever targeted by the Commission, whose probe stems from a complaint made by European firms led by Germany’s Solarworld AG.
“I think the problem will be solved ... and I am confident that the solar industry will continue to develop in the future,” said Gao, who is also Trina’s chief executive.
China sold about 21 billion euros ($26.5 billion) worth of solar panels and components into the European Union in 2011 - about 60 percent of all Chinese exports of the product.
The EU imported goods from China worth a total of 292 billion euros last year. Imports of Chinese products subject to trade defence duties total less than one percent of that amount.
The United States imposed duties on solar panel imports from China in May after a similar push from Solarworld there.
Reporting by Aileen Wang and Nick Edwards; Editing by Daniel Magnowski