Cheap Chinese candles seem likely to spark another fierce battle between retailers and producers in the European Union and again expose divisions in the bloc over global trade.
Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, is expected to recommend within days pursuing a complaint from candlemakers that a surge in imports is unfairly damaging their businesses.
An investigation could lead to punitive tariffs on Chinese candle producers – provided a majority of the 27 EU states does not object.
However, the case could become as contentious within the EU as one last year involving energyefficient lightbulbs.
Facing deadlock among national governments, the Commission attempted a compromise of a one-year extension of duties on imported lightbulbs but this is now under legal attack both from companies who want it increased and those who want it scrapped.
Retailers generally support cheap Chinese goods, while those producers who have yet to outsource manufacturing generally seek to protect their businesses. The split is reflected among member states.
With the EU’s trade deficit with Beijing growing by about €15m ($22m, £11m) an hour, lawyers expect a rash of similar cases in coming months.
-Candles highlight EU trade rift