China Leather Association on Friday warned Chinese shoe-makers to prepare to respond ahead of an European anti-dumping investigation that is expected to open officially at the end of the month.
Su Chaoying, secretary-general of the association, called on all Chinese labor safety shoe-makers to make an active response.
"I fear that some firms may give up the fight because the volume of labor safety shoes is small," he said.
In 2004, China's labor safety shoe exports to the EU were worth US$55 million.
Su said that although the sum was not large, it marked just the beginning of the EU's series of anti-dumping cases against Chinese footwear.
The association said it was the obligation of labor safety shoe-makers to respond.
"Otherwise, it will not only impose negative effects on the exports of this kind but also result in chain reactions in other classes," the association said.
It added it might even bring about trade frictions with other countries if the firms forced out of the EU turned to other markets.
The association predicted the EU is likely to launch investigations in several months' time into material and leather shoes from China.
That will be a heavy blow to China's shoe-making industry because they are two major categories of Chinese exports to the EU.
The association has set up an early-warning system to keep companies informed about the latest information. It has also promised to offer legal help.
The proposed investigation into whether Chinese labor safety shoe-makers are dumping will last a maximum of nine months.
Chinese enterprises would be forced to pay punitive duties if the EU wins the case.
The European Commission agreed to open a dumping probe into Chinese safety shoes on the request of representatives of the European footwear industry.
The European players claimed that cheap Chinese footwear had flooded their market and caused job losses in Europe. They claimed EU footwear imports of six categories from China rose by 581 percent in quantity and 433 percent in value in the first four months of this year, while the unit price fell by some 28 percent.
But figures from China's General Administration of Customs show that the export quantity, value and unit price in these categories grew by 22.8 percent, 59.5 percent and 30 percent respectively in the period.
These six categories had been put under a prior EU import licensing and inspection mechanism, beginning on February 1.
The EU was concerned about the threat posed to EU companies from cheap Chinese shoe imports before quotas were removed at the start of the year.
The EU's attempt to impose new restrictions on Chinese footwear imports is groundless, Chong Quan, spokesman with China's Ministry of Commerce, said on Friday.
"Its decision was made on inaccurate statistics and violates the principle of free trade," he said.
(China Daily June 25, 2005)