Solar panel duty on Chinese imports 'could cost UK billions'

The UK could lose billions of pounds and thousands of jobs in the solar industry if the EU imposes tariffs on cheap imported panels from China, a report has claimed.

The European commission is investigating if solar panels coming into Europe from China are being sold below market value – known as "dumping" – and benefiting from unfair Chinese government subsidies.

The move by the commission, instigated last year, is the largest of its kind, with solar panels and key components worth more than £18bn exported from China to the EU in 2011.

It followed complaints from European solar manufacturers and could lead to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties being imposed on Chinese-made panels to stop the cheap imports harming Europe's domestic industry.

But a report published on Tuesday suggests imposing any level of tariff would hit the EU economy and jobs would be lost, as the move would push up photovoltaic panel prices and reduce the installation of the green electricity technology.

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