Chinese companies have captured more than 80 percent of the European market from almost zero a few years ago.
De Gucht met China’s deputy commerce minister for informal talks in Brussels on Monday, a day after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meeting in Berlin, called for an end to the dispute, as well as another conflict over Chinese telecom companies accused of dumping in Europe.
Germany initially supported De Gucht’s plans for duties and it was a German company, Solar World, that first raised the complaint against the Chinese.
However, rather than punitive measures, Merkel now appears to favor a negotiated solution, wary of the potential impact on German exporters if China were to take retaliatory steps.
“There is no need for more sanction measures,” German Minister of the Economy Philipp Roesler told a news conference on Monday after talks with Li.
Although De Gucht says he had no intention of damaging European business interests in China, he wants to show Beijing that the commission is serious about preventing dumping and that China must play by international trade rules.
France shares that view.
“We want to see a balanced relationship between China and the European Union,” French Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg said. “Countries that use protectionism, and China is one of them, should accept reciprocal rules.”