Chinese shoemakers have vowed to act in unity after the European Union opened an anti-dumping investigation into its work shoe exports.
"We have to stand up against the EU probe," said Chen Zemei, president of Saina Group in Rui'an, east China's Zhejiang Province. "All domestic shoe makers have a role to play here."
Chen said domestic companies should be united amongst themselves and with European importers as well. "We've got to be firm and well-prepared in working out countermeasures and resolutely oppose any unfair practice from the European side, particularly manipulation of figures."
Chen's company, which reported 200 million yuan (24 million US dollars) of work shoe output and 17 million US dollars of export in 2004, is one of the biggest Chinese shoemakers threatened by the EU probe.
The European Commission, EU's executive arm, opened a probe on Thursday into possible dumping of Chinese and Indian shoes into the 25-member European Union.
Claude Veron-Reville, the Commission's spokeswoman for trade, said that the probe began at the request of European manufacturers and could take as long as 15 months, but that the Commission hoped to complete it in nine months.
At the call of China Leather Association, shoemakers from the country's leading shoe manufacturing regions, including Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian provinces and Chongqing municipality, gathered in Zhejiang this week to exchange ideas on how to face up the new situation and seek help from attorneys and international trade experts.
"We'll resort to World Trade Organization rules in order to protect our legitimate rights and avoid heavy tariffs in the post-quota world," said Chen.
Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Chong Quan said earlier that the Chinese side "strongly opposes" EU's launching of anti-dumping investigation, which is being done without a practical or legal basis.
"China urges the EU to proceed from facts, make prudent decisions and avoid trade frictions," he said.
EU has produced figures showing imports of Chinese-made shoes surged in the beginning of the year after the end of a global textile quota system on January 1.
Relevant EU statistics showed a rise on average of 700 percent in import volumes and a 28 percent drop in prices for six categories of leather and fabric shoes.
According to Chinese custom figures, however, the quantity of exported leather shoes and slippers to the EU were up 22.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, while the price of the products rose by 28 percent.
China has lodged a representation with the EU on serious errors related to the methods of sampling and statistics calculations, and it asks the EU side to check the data accurately, and publicizes the true situation with China's shoe exports.
The EU and China headed off a trade war earlier this month in Shanghai when Mandelson and his Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai agreed to limit growth of 10 Chinese textile products to the EU to
between 8.5-12.5 percent until the end of 2007.
Nevertheless, the agreement does not include shoes.
(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2005)