(MENAFN - AFP) The European Commission announced on Thursday that it had opened a probe into subsidies for Chinese solar panel makers following a request by European manufacturers, in the latest row between China and its Western economic trading partners.
"The European Commission today launched an anti-subsidy... investigation into imports of solar panels and their key components... originating in China" following a complaint lodged by EU ProSun that claimed solar panels and their components imported from China benefited from unfair government subsidies, it said in a statement.
It is the second such probe in two months.
In September, the EU began an investigation into allegations that Chinese companies were selling panels in the European market at up to 80 percent below actual cost.
"In terms of value of imports affected, this is the most significant anti-subsidy complaint the European Commission has received so far: in 2011, China exported solar panels and their key components worth around ‚21 billion to the EU," the Commission said.
While the investigation will take 13 months, duties could be imposed within nine months if the probe finds sufficient evidence of illegal subsidies, it said.
The dispute over solar panels has sparked a bitter row between the EU and China, which on November 1 launched its own investigation into European exports of solar-grade polysilicon, a key material used in the making of solar panels.
China and its Western trading partners have locked horns on other trade issues including autos, steel and rare earth minerals.