EU commissioner says there's space for further trade agreements with China

Following the agreement between the European Commission and China on a minimum price for solar panels over the weekend, EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has said there is a “window for discussions” over the next few months to resolve further trade disputes over wine and silicon.

European solar panel manufacturers previously accused Chinese companies of dumping around €21bn of below-cost solar panels in Europe thanks to huge state subsidies, and had planned to impose tariffs – but this was voted against by a majority of EU governments.

China has also launched an anti-dumping investigation into European wine sales, which is now expected to be dropped.

Commenting on the solar panel trade agreement, David Savage, international trade specialist at legal firm Eversheds, said it is a positive for small businesses.

The resolution of this trade impasse demonstrates a sense of proportion from both an EU and Chinese perspective. While the outcome is not ideal for either party, or indeed the relevant Chinese and EU producers of solar panels, it does indicate that constructive discussions are preferable to protracted investigations and legal challenges, which invariably result in financial difficulties for small businesses.