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EU Slaps Dumping Duties on Footwear
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The EU yesterday adopted provisional anti-dumping duties on Chinese leather shoes even as shoemakers were preparing to fight dumping charges.


The European Commission said in a statement on its website that it had identified "clear evidence of disguised subsidies and unfair state intervention to the leather footwear sector in China and Vietnam."


The tariffs, proposed by EU trade chief Peter Mandelson, are to be phased in from April 7, starting at 4 percent and rising to 19.4 percent for Chinese shoes.


"These anti-dumping measures will correct the injury caused to European leather shoe producers. It is important that we act against unfair trade," the statement said.


The EU will continue its investigation to decide whether the duties should remain in place for up to five years.


Chinese leather shoemakers had been preparing to appeal to the EU to press their claim that exports did not harm the European shoemaking industry, said Wu Zhenchang, chairman of Chuangxin Footwear in south China's Guangdong Province.


Last month, he helped set up a coalition of Chinese shoemakers to counteract the European dumping charges.


"A number of domestic enterprises will jointly put forward their case and we hope to get a favorable outcome at the final rulings in about six months," he told China Daily yesterday.


Till then, even the EU's current measures would be a big blow to firms that mainly export leather shoes to the European economic bloc, he said.


Wu said he understood provisional duties were unavoidable but was more worried about a possible chain reaction from the EU rulings.


He expects EU importers to transfer orders for leather shoes to other countries and move non-leather shoe orders to China, which could bring about a significant increase in China's exports of other categories.


"We fear that will enlarge the scale of the EU's anti-dumping measures," he said.


An industry expert who did not want to be named said the ruling would largely hurt the domestic shoe-making sector, in particular companies that have established brands.


She explained that high-tech sports and children's shoes exempted from the penalties were processed in China for foreign brands, while Chinese brands were concentrated in the leather-shoe sector.


There was no response from the Chinese government on the EU decision last night.


Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said recently that if the EU imposed anti-dumping duties on shoes, China might take up the matter with the World Trade Organization.


The duties on some leather footwear would add as much as 10 euros (US$12) to the price of each pair of shoes.


Around half of the 2.5 billion pairs of shoes imported by the EU last year were from China.


(China Daily March 24, 2006)


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