BEIJING -- China announced Thursday it would impose anti-dumping tariffs on a chemical imported from the European Union, the latest twist in a series of bitter trade disputes between the two economic giants.
The Chinese government from Friday will collect punitive taxes of up to 36.9% from the EU on toluidine, an agent used to produce dyes, medicines, pesticides and other products, the commerce ministry said.
China a year ago opened an investigation into the alleged dumping -- or selling at a price below costs -- of EU toluidine in the country. The tax will be collected for five years, the ministry said in a statement.
"The product under investigation was dumped (in China) and China's toluidine industry suffered material injury," the statement said.
The EU office in Beijing had no immediate comment.
The ruling came as China and the EU are at loggerheads over a series of disputes covering products including solar panels, telecom equipment, wine and steel pipes.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, earlier this month imposed an average tariff of 11.8% on solar panel imports from China -- which will rise to more than 47% in August if negotiations fail to resolve the dispute.
China quickly hit back by launching an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy inquiry into sales of European wine, stoking fears the dispute was escalating.
But EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said last week on a visit to China that Brussels and Beijing can reach a speedy agreement over the solar panels, dismissing trade war fears by saying that an escalation "would be stupid for both sides".
Total trade between the two sides fell 3.7% year-on-year in 2012, with China's imports from the bloc rising 0.4% to $212 billion, while shipments in the opposite direction tumbled 6.2% to $334 billion, Chinese customs data showed.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013