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German minister calls EU move on China solar 'grave mistake'

Germany's Vice Chancellor and Free Democrats (FDP) party Chairman Philipp Roesler attends an extraordinary FDP Party meeting in Nuremberg Ma
Germany's Vice Chancellor and Free Democrats (FDP) party Chairman Philipp Roesler attends an extraordinary FDP Party meeting in Nuremberg Ma

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said the European Commission made a "grave mistake" by agreeing to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China and urged the Commission to work to prevent the eruption of a trade conflict.

"It's a grave mistake," Roesler told Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

He said China already warned the duties on solar panels would harm bilateral trade. "That shows: punitive import duties are the wrong instrument."

Roesler told the Sunday newspaper that the German government has repeatedly warned of the consequences of punitive import duties against China's solar industry. Germany is one of the world's leading export nations.

"The German industry is very concerned and quite rightly," Roesler said. "I expect the Commission to do everything to prevent a trade conflict. The Commission has to seek a resolution with negotiations and dialogue instead of threats."

Germany's BDI industry association warned at the weekend about negative consequences for Germany's export-oriented industry of the Commission's move to impose average import duties of 47 percent on solar panels from China.

(Reporting by Ralf Bode and Soeren Amelang; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Thomas Krumenacker and Maria Sheahan)

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