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Shoe Traders Want Talks to Solve EU Dispute

Footwear industry experts at a forum in Beijing on Sunday urged the EU to solve trade frictions with Chinese manufacturers through talks rather than legal means.

"We hope the EU's anti-dumping suit against China can be solved through negotiations instead of imposing trade barriers," said Massimo Donda, president of the Italian association for footwear retailers.

He made his remarks on Sunday on the first day of the two-day Beijing Forum on Development of Global Footwear Industry. The forum is part of the China International Shoes Fair (SHOES CHINA), which is on from June 3 to 5 and sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce's Trade Development Bureau.

Donda said he attributed the decline of the footwear industry in the EU first to high labor costs. "As labor costs increase in some East European countries, enterprises will transfer their manufacturing centers to places with lower costs, such as China and other Asian countries."

Italian shoe maker Luigino Rossi, said the European Commission should not start a probe into Chinese safety shoes based on four months' figures. "We need statistics from at least six months to tell whether there is harm to the market or not."

Luan Chunsheng, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Light Industrial Products and Arts-Crafts, maintained that the data on which the EU probe was based was not accurate.

"The figures from 2005 covered the 25 EU countries while part were from 2004 and based on an estimation for the 10 new members," he said, adding that it was not right for the EU to take the quantity of import permits as realized shipments.

Fearing a series of anti-dumping charges on more categories of footwear, the government and industrial associations have called on enterprises involved to respond, but this might bring about frictions with other trading partners if they swarm to their markets.

Over 10 major Chinese labor safety shoe manufacturers reached an agreement late last month to respond to the dumping charges together.

The EU, China's second largest market for its shoes, launched a dumping investigation against two categories of labor safety shoes originating from China at the end of last month.

It claimed that after the quota system on the shoe trade was eliminated on January 1 this year, its imports of six categories of footwear from China soared 681 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2005.

(China Daily July 5, 2005)

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