Keep talking over PV, Merkel urges

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is still pressing the EU to reach an agreement over Chinese solar imports, her spokesman said, as reports emerge suggesting China may be ready to retaliate if negotiations on tariffs fail.

“We need to find a mutually agreed solution that establishes a fair competition at imports of solar products from China,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a government press conference Monday.

A spokesman for Germany’s economics ministry said it has been urging the European Commission (EC) and the Chinese government to continue a political dialogue in parallel to the anti-dumping process, in order to reach some sort of settlement.

The spokesman also stressed that the EC now has to hear member states’ opinions, but is not bound by them in its eventual decision.

The commission has until June 5 to make its announcement, but reportedly last week suggested duties of between 37% and 68% on Chinese PV imports.

Chinese commerce ministry MOFCOM has publicly backed the negotiation line, insisting it does not want to see a trade war.

However, reports in Germany suggest a harder-line agenda could be emerging behind the scenes.

Chinese officials, as a tit-for-tat measure, are planning a punitive duty on imported modules from the EU, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper claims today.

Gao Hongling, the deputy general secretary of the Chinese PV Industry Alliance, is quoted telling the newspaper that the plan for counter-duties has been discussed for weeks.

The trade ministry, however, first wants to await a final decision by the EC.