World Bulletin/News Desk
The European Union will press ahead with duties on billions of euros of Chinese solar panels despite resistance from Germany, people close to the matter said on Tuesday, but is trying to reach a deal quickly with Beijing to resolve the dispute.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, is due to publish the details of its sanctions on Wednesday, allowing them to come into force on Thursday, Brussels's boldest move yet to stop what it says is Chinese "dumping", or selling below cost.
But following phone calls between senior EU and Chinese officials at the weekend, the duties will start off at 11 percent, well below the 47 percent tariff first considered, in a gesture intended to avoid a tit-for-tat trade war.
"We are willing to reach a deal," said one EU official close to the talks. "Our strategy is a phased-in approach, although the threat of punitive duties remains."
The EU trade chief Karel De Gucht is expected to use a news conference scheduled for 1530 CET (1330 GMT) to confirm a decision first reported by Reuters on May 3.
The solar dumping case, the biggest ever considered by Brussels, has tested whether EU governments can unite behind the European Commission on global trade issues and overcome worries about retaliation from countries such as China.
The Chinese government warned the European Union last month that if Brussels went ahead with provisional duties, it would "take necessary steps" to defend its national interest, although it did not specify what those measures might be.
Under EU law, provisional duties open the door for a negotiated solution, such as agreement on a minimum price at which Chinese producers can sell solar panels in Europe.
If negotiations fail to resolve the dispute, the provisional duties will become permanent for five years from December.
De Gucht told Reuters on Monday he was not interested in starting a trade war with China. "I don't think the Chinese are interested in a trade war either," De Gucht said. "All partners are engaging constructively."
EU producers say Chinese firms have captured more than 80 percent of the European solar panel market from nearly zero a few years ago, a rapid rise that countries such as France and Italy say could not have happened without illegal state subsidies.
China's annual solar panel production is currently greater than entire global demand and 20 times the level of Chinese consumption, according to European solar panel makers.
The EU duties also follow sanctions levied by the United States in 2012, although the European Union's are broader and will also apply to the wafers used to make solar cells, as well as the panels.
Europe is the world's biggest solar market, now dominated by Chinese producers including Yingli Green Energy, Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, Trina Solar Ltd and Canadian Solar Inc.Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2013, 16:24