No news is good news, the message from Beijing

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EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht was at his most conciliatory in the wake of Friday’s 27th EU-China Joint Committee, in Beijing.

In an EU announcement made in the wake of Friday’s meeting, the commissioner was at pains to stress the EU wants an amicable solution to the solar trade case and confirmed he talked with Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng about the issue.

However the commissioner had little more to say about the nature of any talks, stressing again that the issue was not discussed as part of the joint committee and confirming only that technical level negotiations begun in Brussels last week had now moved to Beijing and are ongoing.

The EU has imposed a range of anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made solar modules on a temporary basis with the rates set to rise in August if no solution to the dispute is negotiated.

If the stand-off continues, EU leaders will vote in December on whether to apply the duties on a permanent basis and speculation is rife that commissioner de Gucht may not be able to override calls from Angela Merkel in Berlin to abandon the duties.