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China threatens European wine imports in solar panels row

Chinese wine-lovers taste Côtes de Bourg wine at a fair in Beijing
Chinese wine-lovers taste Côtes de Bourg wine at a fair in Beijing Reuters/Stringer

China has launched an inquiry into dumping and subsidies of European wine exports in response to the European Union’s decision to slap duties on its solar panels. France is Europe’s biggest wine exporter to the People’s Republic.


EU officials rejected any idea that wine exports were dumped or subsidised, while conceding that the industry itself does receive subsidies.

“We have taken note of Chinese announcement, we take this announcement as an important one that we need to address,” said European Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly.

Producers in France’s Bordeaux region, whose wine comes top of buyers’ shopping lists, said they were taking the possibility of reprisal import controls very seriously.

  • China has become Bordeaux’s first export market, taking 20 per cent of its production;
  • France is the largest European wine and spirits exporter to China, netting 546 million euros in 2012;
  • Spain comes second at 89 million euros;
  • Italy comes third at 77 million euros;
  • Europe earns more than one billion euros a year from selling wine and spirits to China.

On Tuesday the EU announced tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports, accusing Chinese producers of overproducing and dumping the surplus at below cost price.

The tariffs will start at 11.8 per cent on 6 June and will rise to an average of 47.6 per cent two months later if the dispute is not resolved.

Some member countries opposed the move for fear of Chinese reprisals, which would not be the first such measures.

The EU is China’s principal trade partner, while China is the EU’s second after the US.

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