Shoemakers call for appeal against EU duties

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 27, 2009
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Major Chinese shoe makers have urged the Chinese government to appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the European Union's (EU) approval of a 15-month extension of anti-dumping duties on Chinese leather shoes.

Wang Zhentao, president of the Aokang Group, China's second largest shoemaker based in southeast Zhejiang Province, said his company and other shoemakers were preparing documents and other material necessary for China's appeal to the WTO.

The EU began levying anti-dumping duties of up to 16.5 percent against Chinese leather shoes on Oct. 5, 2006. On Tuesday the EU governments approved the 15-month extension of anti-dumping duties on Chinese and Vietnamese leather shoes.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said that China was "strongly dissatisfied" with EU's decision. MOC spokesman Yao Jian said China would appeal to the WTO and take measures to protect the rights and interests of Chinese companies.

Wang said he had been waiting for EU's decision in the past few months. "I am really very disappointed at EU's extension of the duties, and I think it harms both Chinese producers and European consumers," Wang said.

"We won't give up. We will fight for our rights," said Wang, whose company has an estimated brand value of 150 million U.S. dollars and ranked the 39th in Hurun Most Valuable Privately-Held Chinese Brands 2009, an evaluation system for Chinese companies established in 1999 by British independent researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

Wang, also vice president of China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), said the CLIA would unite more Chinese shoemakers, especially those in Wenzhou, to support government's preparation for the appeal.

Wenzhou, China's most important shoe manufacturing base dubbed "shoe capital", is home to nearly 3,000 shoemakers which hired some 450,000 workers. Last year, they produced more than one billion pairs of shoes, accounting for one-fourth of the country's total.

Since 2006, EU's levy of anti-dumping taxes has caused significant losses on more than 300 leather shoe exporters in Wenzhou. In 2008, the city exported 19 million pairs of leather shoes to the EU, in comparison to 23 million pairs in 2006.

In the first nine months this year, Wenzhou shipped 9.2 million pairs of shoes to the EU, down around 35 percent from the same period last year.

Nationwide, Chinese leather shoe export totaled 737.9 million pairs in the first 10 months, down 23.2 percent year on year, according to figures released by the CLIA on its website.

Import of finished and semi-finished leather used for making shoes also dropped 19.7 percent to 680,000 tons during the same period, it said.

Aokang also suffered from the anti-dumping tariffs. Wang said Aokang's export growth to the EU had slowed down significantly from an annual rate of more than 30 percent to current 10 to 15 percent.

Wang said five major Chinese shoe exporters, including Aokang and Taima Shoes Co., Ltd., would also continue their lawsuit at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the anti-dumping taxes.

Aokang and another four shoemakers sued the EU at the ECJ following the EU's levy of anti-dumping tariffs in 2006. The lawsuit has not yet ended.

Wei Yafei, an official with the CLIA, said European consumers and shoe retailers in EU countries also suffered from the anti-dumping tariffs.

"European people are not benefiting from our losses since average price of leather shoes has risen 10 percent. For example, the British consumers altogether have to pay extra 300 million British pounds every year to buy Chinese shoes because of the tariff," she said.

Wang also said in addition to fighting against "unfair tariffs", the CLIA had been encouraging Chinese shoemakers to tap into other markets other than Europe.

"For example, Aokang's export to North America this year increased by over 30 percent, and it even entered the Egyptian market," Wang said.

Other shoemakers were following suit.

In Shenzhen, another shoe export city in South China's Guangdong Province, exports to Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa rocketed 87.5 percent year on year to 400 million pairs in the first 11 months, while its exports to EU countries fell 7.4 percent, according to the CLIA.

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