China filed a complaint against European Union shoe tariffs at the World Trade Organization as Beijing continued its legal assault on what it says is unfair Western protectionism. Europe has grown increasingly concerned about China’s balance of
trade and what some critics view as its artificially weak currency.
which joined the W.T.O. in 2001, filed its first unfair trade case
against the European Union in July 2009, also involving antidumping
duties. The latest move appeared intended to increase pressure on the
European Union, which had itself been sharply divided over extending
the shoe tariffs.
In a statement issued by its mission in Geneva,
where the WTO is based, the Chinese government said Europe’s actions “violated various obligations under the W.T.O., and consequently caused
damage to the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese exporters.”
added that China “had repeatedly consulted” with the European Union but
said that its concerns “had not been properly addressed or settled.”
an eight-page legal complaint, the Chinese government requested
consultations on both the original 2006 decision to impose the shoe
duties and last year’s move to extend them.
The EU and the U.S. have sought to stem the flow of Chinese imports with special duties.
In the EU case, China is taking on one of the most important tariff increases ever levied, which has taken a bite out of its expansive shoe industry. The 16.5% tariffs are antidumping duties, meant to punish goods that are sold below cost and hurt the sales of domestic producers.
The EU duties were inaugurated in 2006 and extended for 15 months in December 2009. At the same time, shoe imports from Vietnam were hit with a 10% tariff.
The duties “violate WTO rules and undermine the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The EU dismissed the complaint. “Antidumping duties are not about protectionism,” said spokesman John Clancy. “They are about fighting unfair trade.” The measures, he said, were imposed only on “evidence that dumping of Chinese products has taken place and that this is harming the otherwise competitive EU industry.”