China and Europe sign Memorandum of Understanding

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Suspicions of the strength of German influence over European politics appear to not be unfounded. Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for dialogue between the Chinese and European Commission. It has been announced that the EC and China’s Ministry of Commerce have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Brussels to increase cooperation between the EC’s competition department and China’s antitrust authorities. High representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, in her capacity as Commission vice president, Zhang Ping, chairman of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission and Fu Shuangjan, vice minister of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce attended the meeting in Brussels.

Reuters reports Chancellor Merkel said, “We want a dialogue… This is not just Germany's wish but also the European Commission's wish. We want to solve this conflict politically.”

Such anti-dumping investigations take time, she added, which presented an opportunity for dialogue.

Coincidently, it was Germany-based SolarWorld that brought the petition against Chinese manufacturers to the European Commission. Before the European Commission had even released a preliminary statement, German environment minister Peter Altmaier offered the government’s support to German solar companies’ efforts to launch antidumping proceedings in the EU against the Chinese.

The Memorandum of Understanding creates a dedicated framework to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the Commission and two of China's Anti Monopoly Enforcement Authorities, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

The Memorandum covers legislation, enforcement and technical cooperation regarding cartels, other restrictive agreements and the abuse of dominant market positions.

The conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding sends a positive signal for an intensified cooperation on competition matters between the EU and China, the second most important trading partner of the EU. Under the new framework, the parties may engage in discussions on competition legislation and share non-confidential information on competition investigations.

Joaquín Almunia, Commission vice president in charge of competition policy said, “The Memorandum of Understanding is an important step and a sign of our commitment to further deepen our already excellent relations with the Chinese Anti Monopoly Enforcement Authorities. It will give new impetus to our cooperation with China in the enforcement of our respective competition laws”.

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