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June 14, 2008

GSP for footwear exports to end soon

The European Union will soon end preferential customs tariffs for imports of footwear from Vietnam, AFP quoted an EU official as saying Friday.

EU ambassadors have struck an agreement that would do away with the tariffs but the decision still has to be endorsed by ministers, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Vietnam benefits from a so-called general system of preferences (GSP) with the EU, under which lower than usual tariffs are applied to imports from developing countries.

While Vietnam's footwear exports have in particular benefited from the arrangement, they no longer meet the necessary conditions and the EU intends to lift the sector's preferential access to the European market.

"What this will mean in practice is that a somewhat higher tariff will apply to footwear from Vietnam, whereas under GSP the tariff was reduced," the official said.

The European sportswear importers slammed the decision and urged ministers not to approve it.

"This decision is indefensible. It represents a kick in the teeth for both the Vietnamese footwear industry and the modern European footwear industry, which relies on Vietnam as a competitive source of supply," said Horst Widmann, president of the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry.

"We strongly urge EU Ministers to reconsider this move," he added.

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