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NEWS UPDATES 22 November 2009

EU likely to remove tariff on Chinese, Vietnamese shoes

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The European Commission's attempt to renew anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese shoe imports appeared to be unraveling Thursday as member states lined up to oppose it, AFP reported, quoting an EU source.

During a committee meeting on the matter, representatives from 15 of the 27 EU nations spoke out against an extension of the punitive tariffs, according to the source. The penalty taxes were applied more than three years ago in retaliation against Asian footwear being sold in Europe at below production cost.

Last month the commission proposed extending them for a further 15 months, arguing that otherwise the European industry would suffer. While the committee is merely consultative, its stance was welcomed by the European Footwear Alliance (EFA).

"Todays outcome is a vote in favour of European business, free trade and, most importantly, European consumers," said Manfred Junkert, director of the Federation of the German Footwear Industry in an EFA statement.

"We expect the European Commission to draw its own conclusions and to withdraw its proposal to extend the duties with immediate effect," he added. Commission trade spokesman Lutz Guellner assured that Brussels "will take note of the member states' opinions before preparing a formal proposal," on the future of the tariffs.

"It is clear that the final decision on the subject rests in the hands of the member states," he added. A European faultline on the issue has run between its economically liberal north, hostile in principle to anti-dumping measures, and the more protectionist south, sympathetic to fears that cheap Chinese imports could undermine EU producers.

Bigger manufacturers that make their shoes in Asia such as Diesel, Adidas or Puma, are also fighting against the renewal of the shoe tariffs.

EU anti-dumping measures levy import duties of 16.5 percent on Chinese shoes with leather uppers and 10 percent on the same kind of shoes from Vietnam, costing manufacturers with operations in those countries hundreds of millions of euros. Figures from the European Commission show that Chinese and Vietnamese shoes make up 30 percent of the EU footwear market.


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