European Union trade officials are asking member governments to approve tougher powers to force companies to cooperate in anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations.
This would make it easier for the European Commission, the EU’s executive, to legally require companies to provide commercially sensitive market data to prove that imported products are being sold below their cost of production.
The bid for stronger powers, which must be approved by a majority of the EU’s 27 member states and the European Parliament, is being linked to a series of high-profile trade disputes with China.
There is concern that European companies are reluctant to participate in trade actions against Chinese rivals, however justifiable, for fear Beijing may retaliate against their operations in China.
The EU is reportedly poised to take action against two Chinese telecommunications companies, ZTE Corp. and Huawei, that could have negative consequences for European firms, including Nokia and Ericsson that have a significant presence in China.
The EU’s tougher stance against China’s alleged unfair trade practices has provoked a split in Europe’s solar energy industry.
More than 1,000 companies across the EU industry have written to the European Commission warning that planned import duties on solar panel imports from China would have serious consequences for the European industry.
European solar panel manufacturers support import duties, but opponents, including installers and energy users, warn they will drive up the cost of equipment, leading to job losses and slowing the switch to alternative energy.