China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Gao Hucheng, will visit Europe next month for high-level negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the controversial anti-dumping duty on Chinese shoes, reported several media sources on Friday. The European Commission (EC) released a proposed plan last weekend that will impose a 23 percent duty on Chinese leather shoes beyond a proposed limit of 140 million pairs.

The EU's proposal will be decided by member countries prior to October 6 and would come into effect on April 1 next year if it is approved. Under the current anti-dumping duties imposed several months ago Chinese shoes will be charged a 19.4 percent duty beginning in September.

Chinese shoemakers have been highly critical of the new EU proposal. Wu Zhenchang, head of a Chinese shoemakers' alliance, said Chinese footwear producers object to the EU's plans. He says the proposal violates the EU's own anti-dumping rules and contravenes conventions of the World Trade Organisation, which China joined in 2001. Wu says the alliance has submitted its defense to the EC. The EU proposal will allow just one Chinese shoe company, Jin Lv Shoes, to import with a lower duty of 9.7 percent, while 140 other Chinese shoemakers will be charged the much higher duty.

Yu Shengxing, a lawyer with the Chinese shoemakers' alliance, said the EU Anti-dumping Commission had refused a request to consider the issue on a company by company basis. However, it did eventually exclude Jin Lv shoes from the higher duties. Spokesman Chong Quan with the Ministry of Commerce said the ministry will support the appeal of Chinese companies and will continue negotiations with the EU.

Following the imposition of anti-dumping duties exports of shoes from the province of Guangdong , China 's top shoe-making province, dropped from more than 10 million pairs in January to just over 5 million in April, according to the provincial customs office.


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