* Chinese probe seen as retaliation over solar panel dispute
* Dispute remains thorn in Franco-Chinese trade relations
PARIS Feb 24 Europe and China are moving
towards a compromise over a Chinese investigation into alleged
European wine dumping, French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said
Beijing opened the inquiry last July into whether Europe was
selling wine in China at unfairly low prices.
The move is widely seen in Europe as retaliation over EU
efforts to hit Chinese solar panels with punitive import duties.
However, the solar panels dispute was resolved the same month,
and Beijing has pressed ahead with the wine probe, saying it is
a separate issue.
China has also said it is open to negotiate on the case.
France, the world's biggest wine producer by value, has in
the past called China's decision to consider duties on French
wine to be "inappropriate and reprehensible".
Paris is therefore eager to see the probe called off, as it
remains a thorn in trade relations between the two countries
ahead of a visit next month by Chinese President Xi Jinping to
the French capital.
"I am particularly happy to be able to say that we are on
the right path towards a compromise on the probe into wine,"
Bricq told a joint news conference with Chinese Commerce
Minister Gua Hucheng in Paris.
"The constructive dialogue between European and Chinese
industry officials should allow for a good compromise," she
Without specifically mentioning the wine probe, the Chinese
minister said he and Bricq had addressed problems in
Franco-China trade relations and said agreements would be
EU wine exports to China excluding Hong Kong, which EU
officials say 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.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus)