(Adds more on EU-China trade relations, details on case)
* EU members clear anti-dumping, anti-subsidy duties
* Duties range from 17.1 to 42.1 percent
* Imposition follows softening of EU-China trade tension
BRUSSELS, April 10 The European Union has
cleared the imposition of hefty duties on Chinese imports of
glass used in solar panels, claiming they receive illegal
subsidies and are sold at unfairly low prices that threaten
The EU solar glass market is valued at less than 200 million
euros ($276.5 million), a tiny fraction of the EU's total
imports from China worth 290 billion euros in 2012, but the
complaint marks an EU challenge to China and its exporters.
A majority of the European Union's 28 members backed the
proposed duties, ranging from 17.1 percent to 42.1 percent,
according to EU sources.
The imports are already subject to provisional duties at
these levels, imposed by the European Commission in November,
but they required clearance from the EU's member states to
extend the duration of the duties to five years.
The definite duties are due to take effect by the end of
Less than a year ago, the European Union and China settled a
far larger trade dispute over alleged dumping of and subsidies
for solar panels and components from China - totalling 21
billion euros in 2011.
The Commission initially proposed heavy duties in that case,
but, facing dissent from a majority of EU member states, ended
up agreeing to let in a certain volume at a fixed price.
In a sign of easing tensions, Beijing last month ended
investigations into imports of EU wine and polysilicon, while
Brussels partially defused a long-running dispute over telecoms
by dropping part of its complaint.
The solar glass investigation follows a complaint from EU
ProSun Glass, a group of producers led by EU sector leader GMB
of Germany, which said Chinese peers had a manufacturing
capacity twice as big as total global demand.
The Commission has previously said that average import
prices from China fell by 27 percent from 2009 to 2012 and its
share of the EU market expanded to 29 percent from 6 percent.
The complainant, whose members say they represent more than
half of EU solar glass production, had said duties of up to 100
percent were required to bring Chinese prices of around 4 euros
per square metre to a breakeven level of 7 to 9 euros.
($1 = 0.7234 Euros)
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Jane Merriman)