Hollande urges talks to resolve EU-China trade row

A bitter row between the European Union and Beijing over new duties on Chinese solar panels should be settled amicably through talks, French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday.

"France has always wanted such differences to be resolved through negotiation and in a spirit of appeasement," Hollande told a team of visiting Chinese business leaders.

He also urged them to step up investments in France to attain a balance.

"There are a lot of French investments in China," said Hollande, adding that "we have nothing to fear ... from Chinese investments on the condition support creating jobs and production."

China accounts for just four percent of foreign investments into France, compared to 16 percent in Germany and 23 percent in the United States.

The visit comes amid an escalating trade dispute between China and the EU.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, imposed an average tariff of 11.8 percent on solar panel imports from China -- which will rise to more than 47 percent in August if negotiations fail to resolve the dispute.

China hit back at the tariffs by launching an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy inquiry into sales of European wine, which analysts said could hit wine exports from France and Italy, stoking fears of the dispute escalating.

The solar panel tariffs, which were introduced this month on a provisional basis, have sparked divisions among EU nations, who will vote in December on whether to make them permanent.

France had supported the Commission's decision to impose the temporary tariffs in order to bring China to the negotiating table.

In addition to the solar cells, the EU also decided this month to challenge China at the World Trade Organization after Beijing slapped duties on some steel products, and has threatened an investigation into China's telecom equipment firms.

Total trade between the two sides fell 3.7 percent year-on-year in 2012, with China's imports from the bloc rising 0.4 percent to $212 billion, while shipments in the opposite direction tumbled 6.2 percent to $334 billion, according to Chinese customs data.

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