30 July - Yesterday the EU and China reached a compromise on the solar panel issue, thereby defusing tensions on supposedly dumped European wine - but at a price. See this Financial Times report and associated editorial.
The Chinese commerce ministry has announced it is launching an anti-dumping probe into wine imported from the EU.
This morning's move is a response to new EU duties levied on Chinese solar panels that come into force this week. France in particular objected to these products being sold within the EU at a price apparently far below cost, made possible by Chinese government subsidies. It is claimed that 25,000 jobs were threatened by these imports.
The EU Trade Commission has indicated that negotiations will be possible, but the Chinese response has so far been defiant - they remain firmly opposed to the newly imposed tax.
While the dispute seems to involve a certain degree of posturing on both sides, there is a fear that a trade war could ensue. If China were to act against European wine imports with punitive taxation measures, 140 million litres of French wine worth $788 million would be affected.