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China and EU in talks to end solar panel row
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

THE EU and China are seeking a negotiated settlement to resolve a solar panel dumping dispute before tariffs on Chinese imports spike in early August, the European Union's trade commissioner said yesterday.

But Karel De Gucht told reporters in Beijing there had been no breakthroughs so far and warned that such disputes were rarely resolved overnight.

"As I have stated time and time again during the course of the investigation, the EU has only one wish - to find a negotiated settlement on the basis of undertakings that can remove the injury caused by the dumping on our market. Nothing more, nothing less," De Gucht said.

At the news conference, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said both sides had repeated their desire to resolve the case by agreeing on a floor price for Chinese products. But neither official offered details on pricing negotiations.

"Both sides have the wish and goodwill to properly address the solar panel case through talks, and both sides are working toward this end," Gao said.

"The two sides' consultations and negotiations are positive and constructive. We hope that in the upcoming talks both sides will adopt a practical and flexible approach," Gao said.

Last month, the EU raised duties to 11.8 percent on Chinese-made solar panels, cells and wafers but that is due to jump to an average of 47 percent on August 6.

De Gucht said European officials met their Chinese counterparts in Beijing over two days to push for a resolution to the dispute before the full duties kick in.

De Gucht has said "Chinese dumping" threatens 20,000 jobs in Europe.

In response, China expressed its "resolute opposition" to the punitive European tariffs and announced a trade investigation into European wine imports worth US$1 billion.

The solar panel duties are a blow to financially strapped Chinese manufacturers struggling with excess production capacity and a price-cutting war.

European imports of Chinese-made solar panels totaled 21 billion euros (US$27.7 billion) in 2011. That far exceeds the value of European wine exports to China, although Beijing's focus on the sector appears targeted at pressuring France, Spain and Italy which have strongly supported the anti-dumping tariffs.

China accounted for 8.6 percent of EU wine exports last year, and France was the biggest exporter to China, selling wine worth 546 million euros.

De Gucht said an agreement over the solar panel dispute would also help resolve the probe into EU wine exports.

"If we aspire to an agreement on the solar panel case, we should also do away with actions that are linked to the solar panel case," he said when asked about the wine investigation.


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