05/28/2013, 00.00
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
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Europe divided over levies on solar panels from China

Germany, Great Britain, and Holland oppose the levy; France and Italy are in favour. The European Commission complains about pressure on EU countries from Beijing. Germany switches sides after Merkel meets Chinese PM Li Keqiang.

Brussels (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 14 members of the European Union are opposed to imposing levies on solar panels "Made in China". Great Britain, Holland and Germany are against them, whilst France and Italy are among those who support custom duties.

According to the European Commission, Chinese manufacturing firms are subsidised by the state, which allows them to export at prices that are so low that they all but destroy the competition.

EU Trade Commissioner Mr De Gucht is proposing levies averaging 47 per cent on the panels, to take effect on 6 June for six months. After that, the issue would be discussed again unless the two sides reach an agreement before the deadline.

The push for a negotiated solution has become more urgent given the great opposition to the levy, which Germany had initially supported, as it was a German company, Solar World, which first raised the complaint against China, backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, two days ago, after a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a visit in Europe (pictured), Merkel came out against the levy and in favour of negotiations.

The European Commission said that Beijing has been putting pressure on EU members.

German exports to China reached € 66.6 billion last year, mostly cars, car parts, machinery and electrical goods. At present, Chinese solar panel exports to Europe are worth € 21 billion.

 

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