Business / Economy

Experts say EU's solar decision is 'destructive'

By Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-07 01:41

China observers in Europe said that the opening of an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panel exports by Brussels is "unfortunate, destructive and not smart" while urging Beijing to react reasonably to avoid an escalation.

The experts said that they don't believe officials in Brussels "deliberately" announced the decision on Thursday to gain more bargaining power over Beijing when both sides hold a leaders' meeting in two weeks in Europe.

"In order to avoid a destructive trade war and turn Brussels' destructive move into something positive, it would be good if China responds by asking for a broader review of WTO rules when it comes to environmental goods and services," said Dennis Pamlin, founder of Sweden-based 21st Century Frontiers.

He said that the Brussels move is "not smart" as Europe claims to be a green champion.

On Thursday, the European Commission announced the opening of an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar products exports. The volume of China's photovoltaic products exports to Europe was about 21 billion euros ($26.4 billion) last year.

Giles Merritt, secretary-general of Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe, said the timing of the investigation was not set deliberately, but is rather an unfortunate coincidence as it is right before the EU-China summit.

He said that European Commission officials are playing the roles of judges and lawyers, instead of politicians, and that they don't realize how politically sensitive the move is.

"I don't think the Chinese government needs to worry too much," said Merritt, adding that Beijing can ignore the political aspect and look at it as a legal case.

"Technical procedures should be the point the Chinese government has to pay attention to, as that is in everybody's interest," said Merritt.

Merritt believes the move will not damage EU-China relations too much in the short term, but that on a long-term perspective, China needs to think about the implications.

He said that more efforts should be made from the European side, and that commission officials should try to understand how sensitive the move is.

Shada Islam, head of policy at Friends of Europe, agreed with Merritt, saying the action is unfortunate but not deliberate.

"China can react with reasonable moderation and avoid overplaying it," Islam said.

She said both Beijing and Brussels should work together in a mature manner and not allow one case to damage the entire EU-China relations, especially when enormous effort has been made by both sides to promote its development.

The upcoming EU-China summit is the second after both sides met in Beijing in February.

David Fouquet, senior associate of the Brussels-based European Institute of Asian Studies, said that this is a regular trade dispute rather than a dramatic and sudden shock.

Despite the occasional disputes, Fouquet said EU-China relations are developing as a stable and mature partnership with high interdependency, which is too big to fail. He said both sides have learned to deal with the problems with rationality and maturity.

"What we need to avoid now is dramatization, actions should be taken by the leaders to de-dramatize the influence of such specific cases so as not to affect the entire good mutual relationship," said Fouquet.

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Liu Jia in Brussels contributed to this story.

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