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EU, Chinese exporters settle solar panel feud

Workers assemble solar panels at a factory in Hefei, in central China's Anhui province.

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, July 27, 2013, 6:06 p.m.

BEIJING — The European Union and Chinese solar panel exporters said on Saturday that they had reached a settlement in their long trade dispute, with the exporters agreeing to sell their products at a minimum price in the EU market.

The agreement ends one of the biggest-ever trade disputes between China and Europe — a row that threatened to escalate into a full-blown trade war involving European wines and to disrupt EU-China relations.

The settlement was reached after negotiations that began in June, when the EU announced that duties averaging 47 percent on Chinese-made solar panels, cells and wafers would go into effect in August. The EU said then that China was selling its products in the EU market at below-cost prices and harming the European solar panel industry.

In announcing the settlement, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said he was satisfied with the offer by the Chinese solar panel exporters and that the agreement would stabilize the European solar panel market.

“We have found an amicable solution that will result in a new equilibrium on the European solar panel market at a sustainable price level,” he said.

The China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products said in a statement that the price promise represents the majority will of Chinese companies and that it would allow Chinese manufacturers to continue to export their products to Europe and retain fair market shares. The chamber described the negotiations as “arduous” and “meticulous.”

“China's solar panels industry is always committed to maintaining a fair international trade environment,” the statement said. “It opposes trade protectionism and supports resolving disputes through negotiations.”

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang said China welcomed the settlement. The EU is the largest export market for Chinese solar panel products, according to Shen.

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