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EU Gives Cigarette Lighter Makers Spark of Hope
Chinese cigarette lighter manufacturers have got a spark of hope as the European Union (EU) decided not to issue a primary judgment in the ongoing anti-dumping case affecting the firms.

Fu Donghui, a partner with the Chai & Fu Law Firm representing the Chinese lighter manufacturers, said EU manufacturers were officially notified of the EU decision.

The lawyer said the lack of a primary judgment was a good sign that the Chinese lighter manufacturers would win the case.

Chinese enterprises, officials and EU importers lobbied effectively after the anti-dumping case first arose, Fu said.

The EU initiated anti-dumping proceedings on Chinese disposable gas-fuelled pocket lighters on June 27 last year.

Twenty-one Chinese firms responded to the dumping charges. Fifteen of them applied for recognition of their safety devices, five for treatment as firms operating according to the principles of a market economy and one for a separate verdict.

In October, the EU granted market-economy treatment to the five Chinese firms that had made that application. This followed on-site checks of the firms by EU officials between September 3 and 17 last year.

Market-economy treatment makes it easier for the five manufacturers to win their anti-dumping case because the EU is more likely to view their costs as normal.

EU may issue a final judgment in June or July next year, according to an official from the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.

Since the EU does not regard China as having a market economy, an analogous third country recognized as having a market economy has to be selected to establish normal value if the companies involved are not granted the market-economy treatment.

"Since labor costs in third countries are often higher than those in China, the normal value is much higher in third countries, which easily leads to judgments that Chinese products have been dumped," Fu said.

The EU imposed a punitive tariff of 15.3 percent in 1991 and raised it to 44.6 percent in 1998. A compromise agreement reached last year allocated quotas to certain brands.

China exports about 500 million lighters to the global market and supplies about 80 percent of the total lighter market in the EU, according to industry statistics.

(China Daily February 26, 2003)

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