BERLIN -- Germany told the European Commission Monday that it rejected a proposal to slap tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports, its economy minister said.
"There is, from our point of view, no longer a need for penalties and therefore Germany today after the expiry of the deadline... voted 'no'," Philipp Roesler said in a speech in Berlin attended by visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
He added that Berlin had asked the European Commission to extend its deadline until Monday morning for giving its response because Germany wanted to have the chance to "speak with our friends or partners."
"We are against protectionist measures, for open markets and fair competition," Roesler said ahead of a lunch with Li, on the final day of his visit to Germany, by far China's biggest European trading partner.
Li welcomed the German move to gain more time, saying it was because Berlin "wanted to hear" China's stance. "This position, that is what binds China with Germany and earns my appreciation," he said in his address.
His comments followed a pledge by Chancellor Angela Merkel Sunday that Germany would do everything it could to ensure a negotiated solution to the brewing trade conflict so that it did not lead to tariffs.
"I will, as head of the government, advocate that we, at the European level, as quickly as possible have intensive discussions with the Chinese side on the questions at issue," Merkel told a joint press conference with Li.
Roesler had already criticized the threat of punitive tariffs, telling a newspaper recently that the German economy had "rightly, big concerns" over possible Chinese retaliation.
Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed to EU member states that they approve by June 5 an average provisional 47% levy on imported Chinese solar panels.
The EU argues that cheap Chinese products are being dumped on its market, hurting European firms.
Li, who had also visited India, Pakistan and Switzerland on his first trip overseas since taking office in March, said China "resolutely" rejected the European Union's plans to impose taxes on solar panels as well as to probe the country's telecom products.
He said the move would not only threaten jobs in China but affect the interests of European companies, consumers and industry and called for dialogue to resolve the disputes.
While Roesler called for more Chinese investment in Germany, the Chinese leader praised the "Made in Germany" brand as "perfected", adding that "Made in China" was still in the process of being developed.
"If we combine both in an ideal and optimal way, then it's the dream couple," said Li, who was due to return to China later Monday.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013