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EU postpones decision regarding import charges

By FashionUnited


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The discussions regarding the future interpretation of the EU shoe import charge regulation have once again reopened, now its official term has finished. All Northern Europe parties are in agreement: the charge must be abolished. Agreement has also been reached in Southern Europe: the charge must continue. The fate of this charge is now in the hands of the Central and Eastern European countries.

The EU has been imposing a 16,5% charge on the import price of Chinese shoes and 10% on Vietnamese shoes since 2006. The regulation was initially introduced because an increasing number of leather shoes were being imported from China in 2005. The trade limitations which had been introduced in 1995 were partially lifted in that same year. The anti dumping measure was introduced in order to protect shoe manufacturers within the EU from the growing supply of shoes coming out of the Asian countries.

This regulation was due to end in 2008, but after European discussions were held, this was extended by another year. The Belgian newspaper ‘De Standaard’ has stated they feel the same might happen this year. The newspaper refers to a leaked document from the European Commission which states that European shoe manufacturers will be negatively affected by the abolishment ‘in the short and medium term’. They have therefore been given extra time to make the necessary adjustments. Supporters of continuing with the regulation are Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The Benelux countries are against the charge. The Sector Organisation Mitex states that ‘the Netherlands relies on this trade’ and the Dutch Retail Trade Board confirms that “The measure limits the level of consumer choice, it pushes up the price of leather shoes and results in job losses”. The German government is also fiercely against the measure. On the one hand because the country doesn’t have a shoe industry and, on the other, because most retailers and the most important brands – Adidas and Puma – import their products from Asia.

Eurocommerce, the European sector organisation for shop owners and traders, also gathered in the opponents’ camp recently: “Shoes can become cheaper if the EU import charge for leather shoes from China and Vietnam disappears in January”, according to Xavier Durieu, the organisation’s Secretary-General. He is of the opinion that “Every extension of the import charge reduces the purchasing power and will thereby limit Europe’s economic recovery”. The Chinese traders see the import charge as a protectionist measure in order to protect European shoe manufacturers and are therefore naturally also opposed to it, even though they have no say in the matter. Sweden, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland and Ireland are also against the charge.

Ironically enough, the fate of the charge is not in the hands of countries with a clear position in the discussion. The decision will be made by the countries which are unsure of how to vote. If these countries don’t opt for an abolishment of the charge, then this will count as a vote in favour of maintaining the regulation. Countries which are uncertain about the future of the charge are Austria, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, France and various Eastern European countries.

Research is currently taking place into the effects of abolishing the charges. The EU countries will decide on the future of the charge as soon as the research has been completed, probably at the end of this year. The charges will remain in force for as long as the research continues.

European Union
shoe import