Germany disputes hard EU stance on China solar panel duties

BERLIN Mon May 13, 2013 7:05pm BST

A solar power plant is seen near a thermal power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A solar power plant is seen near a thermal power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany distanced itself on Monday from the European Commission's proposal to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China, saying it would prefer an amicable solution.

"It was always the Chancellor's conviction that the best would be an amicable solution that creates fair competition in the import of solar products from China," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The European Commission agreed last week to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China to make them less attractive in a move to guard against what it sees as dumping of cheap goods in Europe, prompting a cautious response from Beijing, which called for further dialogue.

The investigation into accusations of dumping is the biggest the commission has launched, but Brussels is trying to tread a careful path, knowing it needs China, the European Union's second-largest trading partner, to help the bloc pull out from recession.

Given that Germany and France seek to increase exports to China, the commission will still try for a negotiated solution with new Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng before an EU deadline in December to cement the levies for up to five years.

A spokesman for Germany's economy ministry named the European commission's position "hard" and said his ministry was urging the commission and China to continue the political dialogue to try and still ultimately reach an amicable solution.

(Reporting By Gernot Heller, Writing by Sarah Marsh; editing by Jane Baird)

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