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Trade

China opens probe into EU wine imports

A day after the European Union announced levies against solar panels imported from China, China has announced a price dumping investigation into wine imported from the EU – adding a new layer to a trade spat.

China's Ministry of Commerce announced on Wednesday that it was starting an investigation against wine imported from the European Union to check if prices are undercutting domestic markets.

"The Chinese government has initiated an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation procedure into wines from the European Union," said Shen Danyang, a spokesperson for the commerce ministry, in a statement.

There were few details about the wine probe other than the fact that the commerce ministry "firmly opposes" the EU's levies against solar panels.

On Tuesday, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said that an average levy of 11.8 percent would be applied on solar panels from June 6, with the levy rising to 47.6 percent on August 6, unless a solution could be agreed.

The EU accuses China of subsidizing the solar products, the European Commission claiming that panels were being sold at 88 percent below cost price. The industry association EU ProSun says China now holds about 80 percent of the EU market, with European companies having suffered in the face of the cheaper Chinese imports.

The introduction of tariffs is not supported by all EU members, with Germany - the bloc's biggest player in the solar sector - among the skeptics.

France was in favor of the levies on solar panels. Chinese customs figures show that France is the single largest wine-supplying nation to China.

mz/kms (dpa, AFP)