20th Sep 2019

EU announces anti-dumping duties on large shoes

  • A demonstration in Brussels against Chinese products flooding the EU market (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission has announced provisional duties of 19.4 percent on big-sized leather shoes from China and 16.8 percent on shoes from Vietnam.

The duties were announced on Thursday (23 February) by EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.

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The anti-dumping measures are being introduced after a commission investigation found "compelling evidence of state intervention, dumping and injury" in Chinese and Vietnamese shoe production.

Brussels estimates that 4000 jobs were lost in the sector since 2001 due to dumping.

In a press conference Mr Mandelson explained that smaller-sized shoes - under 37.5 in European sizes - would be exempted from these duties in order to protect children's footwear from added costs.

"The burden of a duty is potentially greater on children's shoes because the price is lower. Moreover, parents should not see hurdles put in the way to them buying good quality shoes for their children," the commissioner said.

Sports shoes will also be exempted from the duty because there is not sufficient European production of these shoes.

Mr Mandelson however insisted the duty would not in general "lead to significant price rises for consumers".

He also insisted a price hike in consumer prices of some 20 per cent as indicated by consumer groups was "totally fanciful".

To ensure that retailers with goods already in transit are not strongly hit, the duty will be phased in over a period of five months, starting with a 4.8 per cent duty on Chinese shoes (4.2 % on Vietnamese) to be introduced on 7 April.

Commission evidence questioned

The proposal will now move from the commission to the member states for final approval. But not all of them are backing the move.

"Even if the commission's proposal is less interference than expected, I am worried about the fact that the commission is now finding it necessary to go ahead with protectionist measures in the EU. It harms several EU businesses and free, global trade," Danish minister for economic and business affairs Bendt Bendtsen said on Thursday.

The European Branded Footwear Coalition (EBFC), representing various footwear companies from Northern Europe, said there was no evidence of dumping in the high-quality footwear segment, and that their members would now be forced to absorb a disproportionate amount of penalties.

"The companies in China and Vietnam that are proven guilty of price dumping should be targeted - not the whole import from these countries," Dan Baxter of the EBFC told EUobserver.

On the other side of things, the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), representing major national footwear federations of the EU, on Thursday said that the measures were welcome but far from hard enough to counter anti-dumping from China and Vietnam.

Leader of the CEC, Rafael Calvo, said that the commissions supposed aim to protect consumers costs, notably for European parents, was not entirely honest.

"Over last year's liberalisation of the shoe market we have not seen consumer prices diminish, but rather the income of the major import companies increase," he said.

Mr Calvo underlined that the CEC had never advocated protectionist measures, but only that all the parties on the global market play according to the rules of the game, something he said the dumping companies were not doing today.

In 2005, China exported 1.25 billion pairs of shoes to the EU while Vietnamese shoe imports to the EU were 265 million pairs amounting to some 3.3 pairs of shoes per EU citizen.

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