EU imposes tariffs on wine and food ingredient from China

Aug 1 | Updated: Aug 2 2005, 05:30am hrs
The European Union imposed six-month tariffs of as much as 34.9 percent on a wine and food ingredient from China to protect French, Italian and Spanish makers of the chemical product from cheaper imports.

Theanti-dumping duties on tartaric acid, also used in industries including construction and pharmaceuticals, aim to counter a near doubling of Chinas European market share to about 12 percent in less than two years. The duties target Chinese exporters such as Changmao Biochemical Engineering Co., which faces a 13.8 percent levy.

EU tartaric-acid makers including Frances Legre-Mante SA, Italys Distillerie Mazzari SpA and Spains Alcoholera Vinicola SA have suffered from aggressively low prices by Chinese exporters, the European Commission said in the Official Journal on July 30. The Brussels-based commission is the 25-nation EUs executive arm. Chinas share of the European tartaric-acid market rose to 11.5 percent in the 12 months to mid-2004 from 6 percent in 2002 as the countrys exports more than doubled, according to the commission. The European market grew about 14 percent during the same period, it said.

Tartaric acid is the main acid in grapes and can also be obtained synthetically from petrochemicals. Its used to adjust wine acidity, make bread and desserts, and flavor and preserve fruit juices, soft drinks and jams, according to the websites of Distillerie Mazzari and Legre-Mante, which also say the product is used to delay the setting of cement, make medicines such as antibiotics and clean metals.

Under EU rules, the commission can impose provisional anti- dumping duties for six months and the EUs national governments can turn those measures into definitive five-year duties. The governments will decide whether to impose definitive measures on the basis of a commission recommendation in the coming months.