Chinese labor safety shoes are likely to be exempted from EU anti-dumping tariffs.
Li Fayin, a lawyer with Beijing-based Allbright Law Office, disclosed that he had information from sources close to the European Commission that the EU would not impose tariffs on China-made labor safety shoes. Primary rulings following anti-dumping investigations are expected next month.
Investigations have also been conducted in relation to leather shoes, but parties are reportedly still discussing market economy treatment on that front.
Li is representing several Chinese footwear makers in the dumping charge initiated by the EU last June.
The lawyer said that if no more evidence was found before the final ruling, shoemakers could breathe a sigh of relief.
EU trade officials, led by Fritz-Harald Wenig who is in charge of trade relief in the European Commission, on Sunday met with Chinese enterprises and the Shoe and Leather Industry Association of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.
In Beijing, the delegation met with China's Ministry of Commerce officials. The focus of discussions was the market economy treatment of Chinese shoemakers in the EU and the claim that Chinese leather shoes were being dumped in EU markets, ministry officials revealed. However, they declined to disclose how the talks were developing.
Late last year, the European Commission refused market economy treatment to Chinese shoe firms that responded to dumping charges.
If the EU does impose a punitive tariff on Chinese leather shoes, having market economy status will at least help Chinese shoemakers to enjoy lower duties.
In the last few weeks, ministry officials urged the European Commission to reconsider market economy treatment for Chinese leather shoe factories, saying the EU's decision violate World Trade Organization rules.
According to the ministry, 98 percent of Chinese shoemakers are privately run firms or joint ventures. There is no State intervention as alleged by the EU.
Last month, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson claimed that Chinese and Vietnamese footwear exporters conducted "State-supported dumping" in EU markets, which caused serious injury to the European shoemaking industry.
Mandelson proposed a six-month phasing-in of anti-dumping duties of up to 19.4 percent by October on Chinese leather shoes.
The EU trade chief was quoted in European media as saying that his proposal did not target Asia's labor advantage but "unfair competition."
He said the phased-in duties would ensure that retailers with goods in transit are not suddenly faced with unexpected costs at borders.
"It means importers can plan ahead over the next six months with the maximum of transparency and predictability. It nevertheless means, that after six months, full duty will be in place and the damaging effects of dumping will be counteracted."
Mandelson's proposals have been discussed at a meeting of a committee of the 25 EU member states but no decision has yet been revealed.
(China Daily March 15, 2006)