BRUSSELS, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) Monday hit Chinese air compressors with anti-dumping duties, a decision which has sparked controversy within the 27-nation bloc.
The definite duties on air compressors imported from China will be as high as 77.6 percent, which were meant to protect EU producers from cheaper imports from their Chinese rivals.
They will take effect after the decision is published in the EU's official journal within days.
Prompted by a complaint from Italian air compressor makers, the European Commission initiated an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese products in December 2006. However, it took no provisional measures in this case, contrasting with its usual practice.
The definite duties, which were adopted by EU governments, will be in place for two years rather than the usual five years. It was a result of a highly controversial compromise within the EU.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson had been against any trade protection measures in this case, but he was overwhelmed by his colleagues at the European Commission during a meeting last month.
As a compromise, the Commission recommended a two-year anti-dumping action.
Mandelson has frequently clashed with his German, French and Italian colleagues at the Commission over anti-dumping cases. Last year, he was also over-ruled in an anti-dumping case against Chinese-made energy saving light bulbs.
The EU is increasingly prone to controversy when making anti-dumping decisions as its member states often disagree with each other due to their own interests.
An increasing number of European companies are now outsourcing their manufacturing to China for lower labor costs. But they are liable to the anti-dumping duties imposed by EU, which makes it difficult for the bloc to strike a balance.
Critics said the anti-dumping measures often hurt EU consumers and the European companies that gain competitive edge from globalized production, while coddling the laggards.
In an effort to gather momentum for an overhaul of the EU anti-dumping policy, Mandelson initiated a public consultation in December 2006. However, the proposed reform was effectively stalled due to opposition from those who took a strong hand in trade protection.