EU-china trade dispute : Chinese footwear sector comes under EU scanner

Himalayan News Service

Beijing, June 17:

After textiles, China’s footwear industry is gearing up to meet anti-dumping charges from the European Union, reports Xinhuanet. “The EU is likely to launch an investigation in a couple of days in two categories of labour safety shoes,” said Su Chaoying, secretary general of the China Leather Association. European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said on Wednesday an investigation would be opened into whether Chinese exports of reinforced shoes were being sold in Europe at prices below production cost. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao had said, “On the question of footwear, we hope we can reach an understanding or an agreement just like we did on the textile issue.” Last week, China and the EU reached an agreement to curb Chinese textiles exports to Europe in the next three years after lengthy negotiations.

Su said the leather association had published earlier warnings to firms involved although China had not received any formal notice. “We have called on enterprises to prepare to respond,” he said. In 2004, China’s labour safety shoe exports to the EU were worth $55 million. Su said that although the sum was not large, it might mark a beginning of the EU’s series of anti-dumping cases. Su’s association predicted the EU would initiate investigations in several months into material and leather shoes from China. “That will be a heavy blow to China’s shoemaking industry as it might cover a vast range,” he said. Footwear manufacturer associations from some European countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal, are reported to have asked the European Commission to curb footwear imports from China three times in the past six months.

They claimed the unit price of Chinese shoes fell sharply in the first four months of 2005, while the quantity of imports was increasing. Statistics from China’s General Administration of Customs showed China’s footwear exports to the EU reached 257 million pairs in the first three months of the year, up by 2.8 per cent year-on-year, while total value hit $726 million in the period, up by 30.8 per cent from the previous year. The EU, the second largest market of Chinese shoes, imported about 800 million pairs of shoes worth more than $2 billion from China last year. It accounted for 14.6 per cent of the country’s exports.