Merkel forced to intervene in EU’s largest trade dispute

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has had to step in as dispute over Chinese solar panels threatens to escalate.

The European Commission is set to decide whether to impose an antidumping tariff of 47 per cent on the import of Chinese solar panels, after complaints from European manufacturers that Beijing is subsidising its solar panel industry.

Mrs Merkel said every effort will be made to avert a trade war, saying “We should very intensely use the next six months, and Germany will do everything to ensure that the talks will really advance.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang added, “(Import tariffs) will not only harm jobs in China, as well as development in the affected industries, but it will also affect development and endanger industry in Europe”.

China’s solar industry has grown to the extent that had taken up an 80 per cent share of the global solar market over the last five years. There is concern among many within Europe however that Chinese retaliation for potential tariffs could have a negative impact on overall trade.

The Chinese solar power industry has grown vastly over the past five years, with the country’s solar panel manufacturers grabbing 80 per cent of the global market at the expense of US and European companies.

An unnamed source told the AFP agency that 17 member states “have come out in opposition” of imposing Chinese solar tariffs, including the UK and Germany, while others such as Italy and France are in favour.

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