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Lighter Producers Win EU Anti-dumping Suit

China's major lighter producers have won an anti-dumping suit launched by their European counterparts, the first victory Chinese firms have won against anti-dumping action filed by European firms since China joined the World Trade Organization.

Zhou Dahu, president of Wenzhou Lighter Producers' Association in east China's Zhejiang Province, said that the association has received official notification from the European Commission saying the commission officially terminated the anti-dumping case against Chinese-made lighters.

Zhou is also board chairman of Dahu Lighter Co.

According to the notice, the European Federation of Lighter Manufacturers (EFLM) had decided not to proceed with the dumping case, notifying the commission on July 14.

The anti-dumping case started on May 14, 2002, when the EFLM alleged exports of Chinese-made lighters to the European Union violated anti-dumping laws, a charge the Chinese side strongly argued against.

Wenzhou is the major production center for lighters with about 500 lighter producers, which export 600 million lighters a year, mostly to Europe.

The lighters accounted for about 70 percent of all the metal lighters on the international market, said Zhou.

The loss of the case would mean a heavy blow to the producers in Wenzhou.

Last year, at the request of European lighter producers, the European Union (EU) announced the launching of a dumping investigation against refillable lighters from China.

Led by the Association of Lighter Producers in Wenzhou, Chinese lighter makers challenged the charge, and cooperated with EU investigators, who traveled to Wenzhou several times for field investigation.

EU investigators later concluded the production cost in Wenzhouis very low.

Zhou said Chinese lighter producers produced enough evidence to prove that European counterparts have not been damaged severely.

Lighters made in China are reusable gas-filled pocket devices, while those made by their European counterparts who lodged the dumping charges are plastic, said Zhou.

That means the product mix was totally different, so the Chinese product could not damage the European manufacturers, he said.

Zhou said Chinese lighter firms were privately-owned and there were no government subsidies as alleged by the European firms.

Last October, the EU announced after their field investigation that five major lighter producers from Wenzhou had been awarded the market economy status as they had applied for.

Zhou said he and other major Chinese lighter producers have learned a lot about the trade rules of the World Trade Organization from the case.

"To win anti-dumping cases, you have to do business according to international trade rules," said Zhou.

Wang Qinhua, chief of the Bureau of Industry Injury of Investigation of China's Ministry of Commerce, said on Saturday anti-dumping charges against Chinese manufacturers by overseas countries totaled 500 by the end of 2002, costing China dozens of billions of loss in direct exports.

Citing international trade protectionism as the main motive for the charges, the official said the number of anti-dumping cases against China accounts for 14 percent of the world's total, ranking first in the world.

(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2003)

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