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EU and US Take Aim Again at Chinese Products

The European Union (EU) has launched a new round of anti-dumping investigations into a range of leather shoes from China and Vietnam, according to news posted on the official website of the China Leather Association on Thursday.

This anti-dumping probe, which covers a range of shoes with leather vamps excluding professional sport shoes, slippers and other indoor shoes, could be a big blow to Chinese manufacturers.

The association has called on concerned enterprises to follow the developments and be prepared to respond.

This action would be a second EU anti-dumping charge in a month against footwear originating in China. A dumping probe into two categories of work safety shoes was launched by the EU on June 30 at the request of, in particular, Italian and Spanish shoe makers.

It is also likely that the EU might launch future dumping charges against footwear materials from China.

The European Commission claims that six categories of Chinese shoes, which were put under its inspection mechanism in February, experienced a great surge in production quantity resulting in unit price declines in recent months.

However, statistics from China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) shows that China's footwear exports to the EU stood at 257 million pairs in the first three months this year, up 2.8 percent year-on-year. The total value of the products was US$726 million in the period, up 30.8 percent year-on-year.

Made-in-China plastic bags and sacks have also been dragged into the spotlight. Responding to the EU's June 30 statement that it will launch an anti-dumping investigation into certain plastic bags and sacks made in China, Malaysia and Thailand, some Chinese enterprises concerned have been actively preparing their case, according to Liu Jianli, a lawyer with the Beijing-based Allbright Law Office.

"So far, eight to nine enterprises have called us for consultations," Liu told China Daily on Wednesday.

Companies involved in the investigations have to submit the information required to the EU within 15 days.

There are 1,000 to 2,000 enterprises in China that produce and export plastic-based bags and sacks to the EU.

Most of the companies involved are located in Guangdong, Shangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

This complaint was initiated by 30 European manufacturers who are responsible for some 25 percent of the bloc's total production.

The products under investigation are plastic sacks and bags from China containing at least 20 percent polyethylene and with a thickness not exceeding 100 micrometers.

The European Commission has a maximum of 15 months to conclude its investigation.

Last year, it was alleged that China had dumped plastic bags and sacks on the US. As a result, duties of up to 77.03 percent were imposed.

In related news, the China Home Textile Association said in a statement on Wednesday that curtain makers in the United States cannot justify their calls for measures to be taken against Chinese curtain importers.

The association denied US allegations of surging Chinese exports into the US.

The growth rate for China's curtains exports to American consumers has actually experienced an annual decline since quotas on curtains were eliminated between World Trade Organization (WTO) members in 2002, the association explained.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies' unit export prices to the US have been going up.

Statistics from the GAC indicate the country exported some 59 million curtain pieces to the US in the first four months of this year, up about 30 percent over the previous year. The total value stood at US$183 million, reflecting a year-on-year increase of over 31.5 percent.

Therefore, the association said exports to the US were moving back toward a mild growth rate after restrictions on such products had been lifted.

The association stressed that shrinkage in the US curtain making industry was a natural consequence of global adjustments in the textile industry rather than pressure from Chinese manufacturers.

If pre-emptive measures are implemented, they will not only hurt China's curtain making industry, which employs more than 1 million people, but also hurt the interests of US customers, importers as well as US curtain companies that have investments in China.

The association called on the US government and associations to find a solution to trade frictions over curtains as well as other categories of textiles through direct consultations with China.

In the last nine years, China has been the target of the most anti-dumping cases in the world.

In 2004, 31 dumping investigations were launched against China by the developed countries, up 20 percent from the previous year. The cases covered a large range of products from furniture, to shoes, to textiles.

China's foreign trade volume crossed the US$1 trillion mark last year.

(China Daily, China.org.cn July 7, 2005)

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