De Gucht calls for EU-China deal

EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, who negotiated July’s minimum price commitment from Chinese solar module, cell and wafer manufacturers, made no mention of the bloc’s ongoing anti-subsidy investigation of China when he spoke to the European Parliament about EU-China trade yesterday.

The EU is investigating claims the Chinese government is subsidizing solar manufacturers in a separate case to the anti-dumping inquiry which was resolved by the minimum price commitment in summer.

The deadline for final adoption of the trade agreement over dumping is expected on December 5 with any anti subsidy measures expected to be announced on the same date, or shortly afterwards.

With the EU expected to have made available the findings of its anti subsidy investigation to ‘interested parties’ any day now and set to put a final proposal relating to any measures to member states for a vote in the second half of the month, commissioner de Gucht’s speech in support of a proposed EU-China investment agreement failed to make any mention of the anti-subsidy case.

Despite vociferous complaints from EU solar manufacturing lobby group EU Prosun that subisidies are giving Chinese competitors an unfair advantage, it will come as no surprise if the anti-subsidy inquiry results in no action or a light-touch proposal, in light of the EU’s desire for stronger trade flows between the two entities.

Commissioner de Gucht yesterday said ‘promoting bilateral investment should be our economic objective for the years ahead,’ adding ‘the Commission remains committed to engaging positively with China.’

De Gucht also mentioned a high-level trade and economic dialogue between the EU and China due on October 24 which could prove to be a lively encounter in the event of anti-subsidy duties being proposed by that point.