WORLD

EU and China plan informal talks over trade row

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her country retreat north of Berlin, Euronews informs. It was smiles all round after the signing of a range of bilateral business agreements. But a trade row is brewing with the EU. Chinese officials will meet for informal talks with the European Commission on Monday to try and defuse a dispute over solar panels and wireless equipment. China denies EU claims that it prices its solar panels and mobile telecom devices too cheaply and dumps them in Europe to corner the market. But Brussels is considering imposing punitive import duties on solar panels from China. This comes after the US levied its own duties last year, a decision opposed by Beijing.
The EU is China’s most important trading partner while for the EU, China second only to the US. Merkel was quoted as saying that Germany would use its position of power within the EU to ensure that the talks were productive. She said that Germany would work for the issues to be resolved as quickly as possible because she did not believe that tariffs would help either side.
“We should very intensely use the next six months, and Germany will do everything to ensure that the talks will really advance,” she explained.
Mr Li and Mrs Merkel were meeting as part of the Chinese leader’s first overseas tour. Before Germany, he had already touched down in India, Pakistan and Switzerland.
China’s premier has been warning that any attempt to impose tariffs would be seen as protectionist and ultimately hurt consumers. “This decision will not only harm jobs in China, as well as development in the affected industries, but it will also affect development and endanger industry in Europe,” he told a press conference in Berlin.
The probe into whether China has been selling solar products below cost is the biggest ever undertaken by the EU.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht has proposed taxes averaging 47% on solar imports and a decision is expected next month. The EU is also investigating subsidies provided to China’s telecoms sector.

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