China imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of polysilicon from the European Union, the Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday, the latest move in a long-standing dispute over solar materials.

Solar panels were at the centre of a trade row last year after the European Union decided to impose anti-dumping duties on panels made in China.

Polysilicon is a raw material used in the manufacture of solar panels.

The ministry had extended its investigation into European polysilicon by six months late last year, citing “complicated circumstances”, but imposed duties on South Korean and the U.S. polysilicon in January to protect its domestic solar producers.

Beginning on May 1 and lasting two years, anti-dumping duties of 42 percent will apply to German, Italian and Spanish companies, including Schmid Group, Joint Solar Silicon, MEMC Electronic Materials SpA and Siliken Spain, the ministry said in a statement on its website. The companies would also be subject to 1.2 percent anti-subsidy duties, it said.

The ministry said it has spared one company, Wacker Chemie AG, from duties because of the firm’s “price commitments”.

“If there is a violation of this price commitment or other termination of the price commitment, then anti-dumping duties will be levied according to the final ruling,” the ministry said.

Relations between China and the European Union had soured over the solar industry disputes. They have also been involved in disputes involving other industries, including wine.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, had accused China of dumping billions of euros worth of solar panels in Europe below production costs.

It had planned to impose heavy tariffs on Chinese solar panels but a majority of EU governments - led by Germany and wary of offending China and losing business - opposed the plan and sealed a compromise deal in July.

Despite the resolution of that solar panels dispute, China pressed ahead with its investigation into European wine exports, saying it was a separate issue despite European expectations that the inquiry would also be dropped.

China and the EU reached a deal in the wine case days before China’s President Xi Jinping travelled to Europe in March, but trade woes between the two, from the solar industry to telecoms, persist.

Reuters reported in April that the EU has cleared the imposition of hefty duties on Chinese imports of glass used in solar panels, saying it gets illegal subsidies and is sold at unfairly low prices that threaten European manufacturers.

A majority of the EU’s 28 members backed the proposed duties, ranging from 17.1 percent to 42.1 percent, according to EU sources. (Reuters)