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Solar trade dispute spreads to wine industry; gets personal
Jackie Chang, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Friday 7 June 2013]

In retaliation for Europe setting a punitive tariff (11.8%) on China-made solar panels, China announced on June 5 plans to start an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation against Europe-made wine imports. According to Reuters, this is aimed at hurting the wine industries in countries such as France and Italy, which both backed the decision to levy the punitive tariffs on China-made solar products. Germany, which openly opposed the tariff, will be relatively spared from the possible negative effects of the investigation.

According to the same report, China is now the biggest importer of wines from Bordeaux, France, and consumption shot up 110% in 2011 alone. The report added that EU wine exports to China (excluding Hong Kong) reached 257.3 million liters in 2012, equivalent to approximately US$1 billion. In addition, more than 139.5 million liters (above 50%), were from France.

France's trade ministry noted that Beijing should not start a trade war in an unrelated area, according to the report.

A report from The New York Times stated that China's retaliation using wine imports from Europe is quite smart. In addition, this move may hurt the EU's trade commissioner, Karen De Gucht, because "he owns a 50% stake in a wine-producing estate in the Tuscany region of Italy."

De Gucht's spokesperson said the EU trade chief owned shares in the property before taking the job, and the property does not export products to China.

The report disclosed that the EU exported around US$980.7 million worth of wine to China in 2012 but China's solar exports to Europe reached US$27 billion in 2011.

Nut the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation on Europe-made wine may hurt consumers in China, not just drinkers, but investors too. The report noted that in recent years, China-based firms bought more than three dozen chateaus in Bordeaux due to the rapidly expanding wine market in China.

Currently, the EU has 31 open trade investigations, and 18 of them involve China, according to Reuters.

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