EU Struggles With Shoe Anti-Dumping Regs

At issue is the leather footwear coming into European countries from China and Vietnam at below-cost prices

The European Commission is running out of time for setting up an anti-dumping scheme to deal with leather shoes coming from Asia at below-cost prices, after member states experts rejected a second proposal on Thursday (3 August).

Shoe-importing EU states rejected the executive office's latest anti-dumping plan on shoe imports from China and Vietnam, after the bloc's shoe-producing countries had blocked Brussels' first proposal.

"Member states ... have not supported two different approaches put forward by the commission to address the issue … resulting from the dumping of certain Chinese and Vietnamese leather shoes," commission spokesman Peter Power said on Friday (4 August).

Fourteen out of the bloc's 25 member states yesterday voted against the second proposal that would slap a blanket duty of 10 percent on all leather shoe imports from Vietnam and 16.5 percent on Chinese imports.

It would also have affected children's shoes — defined as sizes below 38 — which had previously been exempt.

Mr Power said the executive office will decide in the coming days what to do next on the shoe duty in an effort to round up a majority for a future proposal.

"There are clearly no guarantees that this is achievable," Mr Power said, adding that "member states duly recognise the sensitivity of this issue so getting the majority is not easy."

However, time is short as the current provisional duties, agreed to earlier this year, run out on 7 October. Mr Power said new measures would "clearly need to be in place before that date" but also stated that the commission would not rush into a final deal on the issue.

The first commission proposal envisaged a system whereby 145 million pairs of Chinese shoes and Vietnamese 95 million pairs would be allowed into the EU without duties, while anything above those thresholds would be put under duties.

It was rejected by the shoe producing countries like Italy and Spain for being soft on Asian shoe exporters.

EU member states are divided between northern European countries, which at an early stage moved their shoe factories to Asia and are now importing them, and southern European countries that still produce shoes themselves.

Brussels' anti-dumping proposals came after a commission investigation found widespread violation of international trade rules on state aid in both Asian countries, which results in shoes being exported at below-cost price.

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