EU-China trade disputes need 'rational' tack

Updated: 2013-12-03 00:25

By Fu Jing and Tuo Yannan in Brussels (China Daily)

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Tough stance from commissioner viewed as somewhat divergent

Beijing has urged Brussels' senior trade official to be "rational" in managing bilateral trade disputes instead of using hard-line approaches.

"The bilateral relationship between China and the EU in trade and economics is one of the largest in the world ... we need to be rational when trade disputes occur, and we should not be willful," said a representative of the China Mission to the European Union on Monday. "Don't presume you can gain by showing your muscle."

The comments came after EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said that the 28-member bloc would defend itself more aggressively against Beijing, saying that the EU would not "get anything from the Chinese by being polite".

The media cited De Gucht as saying: "I mean, we stand for our interests and they stand for theirs." He emphasized that the EU should wield a bigger stick in line with its global clout.

De Gucht also said that China should not play an "outsized" role in the EU's overall policy.

"The EU's trade strategy is not focused solely on China," he was quoted in media reports as saying. "We should just treat them as any other trading partner. A big one, yes, (but) not the biggest one."

De Gucht's tough stance was expressed shortly after the EU-China summit, at which both sides agreed on a cooperation strategy, and Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Central and Eastern Europe. At the summit, both sides agreed to double their bilateral trade to $1 trillion by 2020 from the current level.

However, Beijing reportedly senses that De Gucht's stance is somewhat of a divergence from the cooperative direction. "We should note the two sides of EU-China relations, which consists of not only competition but also cooperation," said the representative.

The representative said that both sides need to take a cooperative approach to dealing with their differences and disputes.

On Monday, the European Council backed the European Commission's proposals to impose definitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on imports of solar panels from China.

Duties will apply for two years starting on Friday, although the rates for punitive tariffs haven't yet been announced.

Earlier this year, nearly 100 solar panel exporters entered into a price undertaking agreement with EC. Those producers are exempt from paying the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.

The decisions came after a 15-month investigation involving the anti-dumping case and a 13-month investigation for the anti-subsidy case. Those investigations began in September 2012 and November 2012, respectively.

On June 5 of this year, the EC imposed provisional measures in the anti-dumping case. On Aug 2, the EC accepted an undertaking offered by the majority of Chinese solar panel exporters.