Sunday, February 26, 2006


China anger over EU shoe ruling.

China and Vietnam's shoe exports to the EU have surged. China has reacted angrily to a European Union plan to slap anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese-made shoes. Beijing said the measures, due to come into force from April, were groundless and "smacked of protectionism". EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said on Thursday that punitive duties would be imposed on leather footwear imported from China and Vietnam. The EU said it had found evidence that suppliers from both countries were dumping footwear on EU markets. The duties, which are due be introduced between 7 April and 15 September, will be up to 19.4% for imports of Chinese-made shoes and 16.8% for shoes made in Vietnam. China denied allegations that it was dumping shoes, adding that the EU duties would be a breach of global free trade principles.
"This smacks of protectionism and is completely out of line with the overall trend of free trade represented by the (World Trade Organization) Doha Round," Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Chong Quan said. Mr Chong said China's leather shoe industry was one of the country's most market-orientated, with 98% of the sector owned by private firms. "It's well known that shoemaking is a labour-intensive industry, and China, with its low labour costs, has a comparative advantage in this industry," he said.
Mr Mandelson said on Thursday that the EU measures were designed to deal with "disguised subsidies" and "state-supported dumping". "We are not targeting China and Vietnam's natural advantages, we are targeting anti-competitive behaviour," Mr Mandelson said. Imports of Chinese leather shoes into Europe rose by 320% in the year to March 2005, while those from Vietnam gained by 700%, an EU official said earlier in the week. China's trade relations with key Western partners have become increasingly strained recently.
US trade representative Rob Portman said earlier this month that the US was readjusting its view towards the Asian economic powerhouse. He announced the setting up a task force to monitor China's trade policies. Critics in Washington have accused Beijing of engaging in unfair trade practices. China responded by warning that the possible threat of US trade sanctions would damage both countries.


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