Chinese energy-saving light bulbs may face antidumping measures
from the European Union (EU) for one more year as the European
Commission made a compromised proposal on Wednesday.
The EU's executive body agreed to the one-year extension of the
six-year-old duties when its commissioners held their first meeting
after the summer break. As a compromise, the antidumping measures
will end automatically after the extension.
"Following discussions within the commission and with member
states the commission will recommend that it is in the community's
interest to discontinue these measures in the next year," the
commission said in a press release.
The proposal, which had to be approved by EU member states, was
put forward in accordance with the overall interests of the EU,
commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told reporters at a
daily news briefing.
"There are grounds to leave the possibility of continuing these
antidumping measures for another year, mainly to allow for a soft
transition in a changing market reality" for the European industry,
Stephen Adams, the press officer for EU Trade Commissioner Peter
Mandelson, confirmed with Xinhua that the one-year extension was
meant to provide a transition period, after which the antidumping
duties will be dropped automatically without the need for further
The one-year extension is started once the approval of member
states is made, probably within one month, said Adams.
The EU has imposed an antidumping tariff of up to 66 percent on
energy-saving light bulbs from China since 2001, which was due to
expire in July 2006.
However, the EU later conducted an expiration review amid
requests by industry to determine whether to prolong the tariffs
for another five years.
During the review period, which lasts 15 months after the
expiration and is set to end this October, the antidumping measures
remain in force.
Whether to extend the antidumping duties against Chinese
energy-saving bulbs has led to heated debate within the EU.
"This case has once again shown the complexities of managing
antidumping rules in a global economy and against the broad range
of EU interests," Mandelson said in a statement.
Last month, a majority of trade experts in the EU's executive
body decided to support an end to the antidumping measures, a
position also shared by the EU's top trade official.
But the extension proposal was said to be a compromise mainly
between Mandelson and Enterprise Commissioner Guenter Verheugen,
who pressed for a two-year transition period and has expressed
concern about job losses at German producer Osram, part of the
German-based Siemens group.
Osram has pushed to keep the duties in place, while most
European producers, led by Dutch electronics group Philips, want
them to be lifted.
Both companies have part of their production based in China for
cost saving, but Philips has a much larger presence and imports
more than other European companies, to such an extent that it can
hardly be classified as a European producer.
"Continuing duties would be a backward, protectionist move to
safeguard the short-term interests of one single company," Philips
said in a statement prior to the commission's decision.
The Foreign Trade Association (FTA), which represents EU
importers, said the move was bad news both for the industry and for
"It is not good for the European industry as some major
producers do not want the duties to be extended. And also, it is
not good for consumers since the prices are already high because of
the duties," FTA spokesman Stuart Newman told Xinhua.
The antidumping measures were also criticized by
environmentalists as unjustified in the EU's fight against global
Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, the Switzerland-based World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) urged the EU to end the duties, arguing that
Europe has to rely on imports to meet its demand for low-energy
light bulbs, which is essential to realize the bloc's goal of
reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 from the
level of 1990.
"Ending the antidumping investigation and allowing imports of
Chinese integrated compact fluorescent lamps could contribute to
savings of 23 million tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to 0.5
percent of EU greenhouse gas emissions," Tony Long, director of the
WWF's European Policy Office, said in a letter to EU Environment
Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
It was estimated that EU domestic production can only meet 25
percent of its demand for energy-saving light bulbs, which could
reach up to 400 million units by the end of this year.
(Xinhua News Agency August 30, 2007)