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Solar panels hit by EC duties

2013-06-05 11:29 Global Times     Web Editor: qindexing comment

The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday officially announced provisional anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels.

A phased approach will be followed with an 11.8 percent duty, effective on Thursday and lasting until August 6, and a 47.6 percent rate from August onwards, the commission said, adding that the latter level aims to remove the harm done by the dumping to the European industry.

The duty on imports of solar panels, cells and wafers from China comes after nine months of thorough and serious investigation and extended contact with market players, said the commission.

This also follows the result of a poll by EU members on May 24, with 18 members including Germany and the UK opposing the duties, four supporters such as France and Italy, and five abstentions.

Previous media reports said the preliminary result of the poll would be announced on Wednesday, and a final decision will come in December.

In a telephone call with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso late Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China is paying close attention to the trade dispute.

Li said the dispute, which is closely related to China's major economic interests, will harm the interests of both China and the EU and affect Chinese-EU relations if not resolved properly.

Li expressed hope of resolving the dispute through bilateral talks and Barroso said that Europe is willing to solve the dispute through dialogues and negotiations.

The trade dispute between China and the EU involves the key interests of Chinese enterprises, and is the biggest trade rescue case of its kind in terms of the amount of money and the number of employees involved, having the most impact on the Chinese side, Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.

The punishment, if implemented, will have a big impact on both Chinese enterprises and European firms, Yao said, noting a trade war is not wanted by either side.

The ministry together with industry associations and enterprises in the field will respond to the issue, according to Yao, who added that he hopes the EU will remain prudent in dealing with the dispute.

"The door to negotiations will always be open," he stated, urging both sides to work together to go through the continuing global economic crisis.

Before the poll, several Chinese parties had participated in talks with the EU to resolve the dispute, but failed to produce a result.

The first round of talks was reported on May 22 to have failed as the Chinese side's proposal to raise export prices of solar products to avoid possible anti-dumping duties was directly rejected by the commission. Following those talks, the Ministry of Commerce sent representatives for negotiations, but did not make further progress.

Discord within the EU mechanism has resulted in inconsistent voices, and another possibility is that EC and EU members are looking to gain greater bargaining power with China by showing different attitudes to the dispute, Zhao Yongsheng, a visiting scholar with the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Tuesday.

"Individual nations in the EU, even as big as Germany, are afraid of countermeasures from China, so major interested parties expressed opposition to the duties," Zhao said. Whether the decision made by the EU Trade Commission will be effective is determined by the EC, Zhao said. "The decision is a move by the commission to test responses from China on trade disputes."

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