EU trade chief Karel De Gucht: We won't yield to pressure from China on solar panels


Click to follow
The Independent Online

The European Union's trade chief said today he would not give in to Chinese demands to drop plans for punitive duties on solar panel imports, calling pressure from Beijing “a waste of time”.

A majority of EU governments including Germany and Britain oppose a European Commission plan to impose hefty duties on solar panel imports next month, according to a survey of member states Reuters carried out on Monday.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who met Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan in Brussels on Monday, confirmed that there was widespread member state resistance, but that governments were clearly being lobbied by Beijing.

"They (the Chinese) are not going to impress me by putting pressure on member states," De Gucht told the European Parliament's influential trade committee.

"I couldn't care less whether that happens with ... the biggest and most populous state in the world. For me it is the same. So they can try to put pressure on member states, but they will waste their time trying to do so with me," De Gucht said.

The Commission, the European Union's executive, accuses Chinese firms of selling solar panels at below cost in Europe - a practice known as "dumping" - and plans to impose duties, making it far harder for China to gain market share.

The duties, averaging 47 per cent, will come into force from June 6 for a trial period and could be withdrawn if both sides reach a negotiated settlement.

It is the largest trade case the Commission has undertaken, with about 21 billion euros of China-made solar panels sold in the European Union, and one that has prompted China to send its diplomats and officials across Europe to try to force De Gucht to drop his plans.