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EC stalls trade case until China Mobile announces 4G contract winners

The European Commission’s ongoing trade case against several Chinese vendors could be shelved depending on the outcome of a lucrative China Mobile tender.

The EC Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has pushed the controversial case due to a staunch belief that Chinese vendors are receiving illegal government subsidies in order to undercut their European rivals.

However, he is reportedly open to dropping the case if European companies are awarded a reasonable share of China Mobile’s upcoming 4G contract, which the Financial Times believes could account for “as much as half of global telecoms investment next year”.

Now that a separate case concerning Chinese solar panel imports has been resolved, the telecom case has come to the fore. Despite the fact that no European vendor has registered an official complaint, De Gucht has stated that he could open the investigation himself.

European vendors have refrained from complaining about the allegations of subsidies as they are unwilling to jeopardise their standing in the Chinese market. Huawei and ZTE have denied the allegations.

China complained to the EU earlier this year, claiming that De Gucht had demanded a 30% share of the Chinese mobile market for European vendors. Member states of the EU have expressed only moderate support, which may derail De Gucht’s hardline approach – as with the solar panel case, which saw the EC reach a settlement with the Chinese government.  

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