China solar panel agreement brings hope for EU wine resolution

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The European Commission has reached a preliminary agreement with Beijing over imports of Chinese solar panels, raising expectations from the wine industry of a solution to the anti-dumping investigation.

Although all member states still need to vote on the solar panel issue on August 6, both China and the EU have agreed to a minimum price for the panels, according to EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht.

The row dates back to June, when the EU threatened to impose import tariffs of up to 47.6% on solar panels it said were being sold at below cost price – and which then threatened to kick off a wider trade war, with EU wine in line for a retaliatory import tax.

John Watkins, managing director of ASC China, told decanter.com, ‘While there is no guarantee that a resolution of the solar panel issue will resolve the anti-dumping issue, it is a very good step in the right direction for EU wines in China.’

Until there is a definitive resolution, the general advice to European winemakers continues to be to comply with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) investigation into anti-dumping tariffs.

The official investigation was announced on July 1, 2013, with July 20 the final date for all exporting companies to register with the two companies carrying out the study on behalf of MOFCOM. Later this week, on July 30, up to ten European wine companies will be selected for detailed investigations – with companies who willingly registered for the study standing to benefit from lower taxes than those who did not.

The final decision is currently due on July 1, 2014. A preliminary tax may be put in place in early 2014 while waiting for the final results.

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