23rd Jun 2017

Brussels proposes tougher line on Asian shoes

  • EU is divided on how to tackle major hikes in Asian shoe imports (Photo: EUobserver)

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has proposed a new anti-dumping scheme on shoe imports from China and Vietnam as European footwear producers rejected his earlier plan to exempt a majority of Asian products from projected tariffs.

Under a new proposal, to be considered by EU member states' officials on Thursday (28 July), the bloc would slap a blanket duty of 10 percent on all leather shoe imports from Vietnam and 16.5 percent on Chinese imports.

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Mr Mandelson's previous plan - rejected by Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Poland - suggested that 80 percent of Asian imports would be exempted from the tariffs, which are set to be agreed by September and are intended to last for five years.

But the latest proposal has already been met with criticism from the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industries.

"That the Commission put out a second very different proposal in the space of two weeks without even consulting the interested parties is very disconcerting," the sports footwear lobby commented, according to Financial Times.

The EU imposed provisional tariffs of 16.8 percent for Vietnam and 19.4 percent for China in March, but it needs to replace them with definite duties by October.

There is a deep divide between those EU states with major shoe industries who argue that a hike in Asian imports is damaging their producers, and member states with strong retail sectors such as the UK and Sweden who favour a more liberal approach and minimum protective measures.

Retailers claim the newly proposed scheme would bring them into trouble as fierce competition would make it difficult for them to pass additional costs onto consumers, UK daily The Times reported.

But European consumers are set to be affected.

Some categories of footwear, such as children's shoes, would be included under the new anti-dumping scheme while they do not fall under the current interim regime.

The proposed anti-dumping measures come after accusations by the European Commission that Asian countries break international trade rules by using measures such as tax holidays for their national manufacturers.

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