BEIJING Dec 18 China would welcome talks with
the European Union on an investigation into whether Europe is
dumping wine, the Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday, and it
dismissed any suggestion the inquiry was linked to a dispute
over solar panels.
China began an inquiry in July into whether Europe was
selling wine in China at unfairly low prices with the help of
subsidies. That was widely considered to be retaliation for an
EU move to impose punitive duties on Chinese solar panels.
Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said at a monthly
news conference China's investigation into EU wine was not in
retaliation against any EU investigation such as the solar panel
"China has never linked this case to other trade friction
cases targeting China and we also oppose any attempt to
interpret the EU wine case as a retaliation against the solar
panel case," Shen said.
The Commerce Ministry was only responding to requests from
domestic firms to launch the wine investigation, and that the
case was now "in the normal process of investigation", he said.
"China welcomes talks and negotiations between the two
sides' industries to seek a solution to resolve the dispute and
we would like to provide convenience (for such talks)," Shen
"As far as I know, the industries of China and the EU have
started initial contact with each other and we hope the two
sides could produce a positive result through negotiations."
The solar panel case was by far the largest trade dispute
between Brussels and Beijing, but they reached an agreement to
avert duties. EU officials said they had received reassurances
the wine inquiry would also be dropped.
Then China caused confusion by sending a 45-page
questionnaire in Chinese to France, Spain and the European
Commission, which handles trade for the EU's 28 countries,
officials and diplomats said.
However Italy, one of Europe's biggest wine producers, was
not sent the questionnaire.
Brussels and Beijing opened negotiations on a so-called
investment pact last month to improve access to each other's
China is the world's biggest importer of Bordeaux, and
consumption soared 110 percent in 2011.
EU wine exports to China excluding Hong Kong, which EU
officials said was not covered by the investigation, reached 257
million litres in 2012 for a value of nearly $1 billion. More
than half came from France.
China-based European companies in the wine business held a
first meeting in November to tell Beijing that EU exports
respected the norms of world trade and there was no dumping.
They expect to meet again in February, officials said.
(Reporting by Wang Lan and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert