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Industry expresses dismay at sudden U-turn on footwear duties

03
Dec '09
The European Footwear Alliance notes with great dismay that Germany, followed by Austria and Malta, have decided to abstain in a crucial vote on whether or not to extend antidumping duties on footwear imports from China and Vietnam.

Germany had declared its opposition to the continuation of the duties. However, it then inexplicably decided to abstain on condition that they come to a definitive end in 15 months' time, despite the European Commission's admission that there can be no legal guarantee of this.

This sudden U-turn is a catastrophe for all those who care about European business, European consumers and, more broadly, about Europe's place in the world, and it raises serious questions about the application of EU trade law and policy in these times of economic crisis" said Manfred Junkert, Director of the Federation of the German Footwear Industry.

It is unclear what is behind this sudden U-turn. We can only conclude that, like the European Commission, certain EU Member States have bowed to pressure from protectionist lobbies within Europe. Germany and Austria have inexplicably disregarded the views of their domestic footwear industry which is clearly against the continuation of the duties. Considering Malta's liberal trade record, the reasons behind their changed position are obscure.

Keeping the measures for a further 15 months will cost European consumers and businesses hundreds of millions of euros. The total cost of duties will be well in excess of 1 billion euros, without benefiting anyone. Imports from China and Vietnam have been replaced by imports from other third countries and not a single shoe manufacturing job will return to Europe.

This is deeply regrettable. Extending the duties will jeopardise the EU's good relations with key emerging markets at a time when European footwear producers are just beginning to tap into their full commercial potential. China has made it known that it strongly opposes the footwear duties and is considering possible action at the WTO. It is already under considerable pressure from its own producers to curb surging high-end imports from Europe and retaliatory measures cannot be ruled out.

European Footwear Alliance


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