The world’s biggest olive oil exporter to China — Spain — fears being caught in the crossfire if a trade battle breaks out over the European Union’s punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels announced Tuesday.
China waited just a day to launch an anti-dumping probe into E.U. wine imports, a move which suggests a tit-for-tat trade war looms, the South China Morning Post reports.
And the European Voice says rumors suggest Beijing may also target “olive oil, steel tubing, and part of the chemicals industry.”
Similarly, ARN Digital says exporters fear Spanish olive oil could suffer some of the worst collateral damage because if China and the E.U. don’t reach a deal to resolve their dispute in the next two months, “China will impose barriers not just on wine but also on olive oil.”
The country supplies nearly 60 percent of China’s olive oil imports and in the first quarter of this year its olive oil exports there enjoyed 80 percent growth year-on-year, to reach €35 million, ARN Digital said.
Two-month window to seek solution on panels
E.U. Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht announced on Tuesday that the European Commission had decided to impose provisional tariffs on solar panels imported from China “in order to counter the dumping of these products on the European market.”
A provisional 11.8 percent tariff now applies on all Chinese solar panel imports but this is to rise to an average of 47.6 percent from August 6. However, De Gucht said he would “prefer a negotiated solution, and quickly.”
China’s Ministry of Commerce announced the wine probe in a statement the following day which also called for the EU to show “more sincerity and flexibility” on the solar dispute.
“We have noted the quick rise in wine imports from the EU in recent years, and we will handle the investigation in accordance with the law,” the ministry statement said, according to South China Morning Post.
E.U. itself the target of anti-dumping moves
The E.U. has itself already been subject to various dumping claims over subsidies for olive oil production.As reported in Olive Oil Times in April, South Africa is the latest country to seek a countervailing duty to apply on E.U. olive oil imports.
Peru had applied such an anti-subsidy duty on imports of Italian and Spanish olive oil until a tribunal there quashed the duty earlier this year on finding there had not been proof of injury to the olive oil sector in Peru.