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Forget green hype: desperate EU goes for anti-Chinese protectionism

The European Union approved a one-year extension of anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese energy-saving light bulbs on Monday, despite protests from environmentalists, leading companies and several EU capitals.

The continuation of the duties of up to 66.1% on the bulbs from producers in China - plus smaller exporters in Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines - was rubber-stamped by foreign ministers, the EU's Portuguese presidency said.

Environmental groups such as WWF have said the plan flies in the face of the bloc's attempts to save energy and undermines its claims to be a leader in the fight against climate change. Dutch electronics group Philips which imports large amounts of the bulbs, and Swedish retailer Ikea, supplier of about a fifth of EU demand, opposed any extension.

But Germany's Osram, which is part of the Siemens group and imports less from China than Philips, had sought to have the duties extended for a further five years. The European Commission's compromise one-year extension faces a court challenge from Italian lighting company Targetti which is also seeking reimbursement for duties paid since 2001.

EU governments were also split on the issue, underscoring the bloc's divide on how to respond to globalisation. Trade lawyers say Osram may still attempt to keep the duties in place for longer than one year by asking for a review during 2008. A review, if granted, could last for more than a year. (Planetark)