|EU, China officials to meet over trade dispute
EU and Chinese trade officials will meet informally on Monday amid a series of tit-for-tat disputes, the European Commission said, after news of yet another row, this time over chemicals, surfaced.
The meeting comes as Brussels prepares on June 5 to impose hefty anti-dumping tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels, just one area of discord that this month alone has included telecoms and steel tubes, AFP reports.
"I can confirm that the Chinese government has requested that Vice Minister Zhong Shan be received by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht in Brussels on Monday,'' EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy said.
"The meeting is informal only,'' Clancy said, adding that the anti-dumping tariff would still come into force under EU procedures before any formal talks to resolve the issue could take place with Beijing.
"As all parties are aware, formal discussions towards a negotiated settlement in the solar panels case can only begin -- as stipulated by the legal trade defence framework -- should a decision be taken to impose provisional measures.''
Chinese Vice Minister Zhong was already in Brussels for a regular meeting with his EU counterparts.
Separately, the Commission confirmed that Beijing was investigating a complaint against several European chemical companies for alleged dumping.
This is the second anti-dumping move by China against European industry in less than two weeks after a complaint against European companies making unwelded pipes.
Besides solar panels and components, the EU has said it also plans to investigate Chinese manufacturers of telecoms equipment such as giants Huawei and ZTE.
Such disputes have stoked concerns that the two sides could find drift into a trade war despite hugely important ties -- the EU is China's largest single export market and a major supplier of goods and services.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that she would do everything possible to avoid "lapsing into a kind of dispute which finally only ends in mutual tariffs.
"I will, as head of the government, advocate that we, at the European level, as quickly as possible have intensive discussions with the Chinese side on the questions at issue,'' Merkel said.