EU to set duties on Chinese tableware and pipe fittings


BRUSSELS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The European Commission hasproposed setting anti-dumping duties on imports of ceramictableware and metal pipe fittings, further tightening its tradedefences against Chinese exporters.

The Commission plans to impose duties of between 17 and 58percent on Chinese producers of tableware and kitchenware and ofbetween 15.9 and 59.3 percent on Chinese and Thai exporters ofmalleable tube fittings, according to EU sources.

Indonesian exporters of tube fittings will be exempted fromduties because they are too small.

The European Commission declined to comment.

The duties, to be set by Nov. 16, would be provisional. EUmember states would vote on them becoming definitive six monthslater.

China is the European Union's second-biggest trading partnerafter the United States, and the bloc is China's biggest tradepartner. Trade between the two is forecast to hit a record 500billion euros ($647 billion) this year.

Relations have been tense, with EU Trade Commissioner KarelDe Gucht complaining China subsidises "nearly everything",distorting competition.

The European Commission last month launched its largesttrade defence case to date, into the alleged dumping of 21billion euros' worth of solar panels and components by Chineseproducers.

It is also gathering evidence to mount a possibleinvestigation into dumping of wireless telecom equipment byChina's Huawei and ZTE .

Dumping means selling abroad at lower cost than on thedomestic market.

China is a subject of 22 of 41 current EU trade defenceinvestigations, although currently less than 1 percent ofChinese imports into the EU by value are subject to duties.

Cerame-Unie, representing the European Ceramic Industry,says China's share of the EU market in tableware and kitchenwarerose to 67 percent last year from 22 percent in 2004, whenquotas were lifted.

Over the past five years, it says EU producers have lost 650million euros of output and cut 10,000 jobs, some 30 percent ofthe sector, due to a flood of Chinese imports.

Cerame-Unie says average Chinese prices are 70 percent lowerthan those of other countries exporting to Europe.

The Foreign Trade Association, which represents Europeanretailers and importers, contends that the imposition of dutiescould force the closure of some importers of Chinese cups andplates and be a great burden for shops.($1 = 0.7726 euros)

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Andrew Roche)

((philip.blenkinsop@thomsonreuters.com)(+32 2 287 6838)(ReutersMessaging: philip.blenkinsop.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))