EU free-trade states urge quick resolution of Chinese solar dispute

Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:01am EDT
 
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By Ethan Bilby

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - A group of free-trading northern European nations urged the EU's trade chief on Friday to contain a growing dispute with China or risk a negative spiral that could choke exports.

Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht needed to find a diplomatic solution with Beijing to avoid a tit-for-tat trade war, after Brussels imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels and Beijing retaliated with an investigation into European wine.

"It is not the right way to go. When the one side begins to close up, the other continues. And then we have a negative spiral that doesn't stimulate trade," Swedish Trade Minister Ewa Bjorling told reporters at the start of a meeting with De Gucht and fellow EU ministers in Luxembourg.

Britain and Ireland will also press De Gucht on Friday on the issue, their diplomats said.

De Gucht, who handles trade issues for the European Union's 27 countries, went ahead with sanctions against Chinese solar panels on June 6, despite opposition from 18 of the bloc's governments, who fear retaliation from Beijing.

The European Commission, the EU executive, accuses Beijing of dumping billions of euros of solar panels at below the cost of production, unfairly winning 80 percent of the EU market.

However, De Gucht softened his earlier plan to levy punitive tariffs averaging 47 percent immediately, and went ahead with tariffs at 11.8 percent for two months, leaving a window for Brussels and Beijing to reach a negotiated solution.

SUBSIDIES AND THREATS   Continued...

 
A man eats his breakfast as he walks under solar panels belonging to a solar power plant in Shenyang, Liaoning province June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer