EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson has received the power to impose anti-dumping measures on certain footwear from China and Vietnam before April 7.

The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) continues to oppose antidumping measures on footwear, which would inflict serious harm on the European footwear industry and European consumers.

“The alleged ‘benefits’ to a number of uncompetitive Italian shoe manufacturers are miniscule compared to the massive damage duties would cause,” said FESI President Horst Widmann. “No single job will come back to Europe as a result of the measures but damage will be done
to high-value sectors of the European footwear industry like design, advertising, marketing, sales and logistics.”

Even Commissioner Mandelson admitted this week that anti-dumping duties cannot be a tool to shield European producers from global competition. A week ago, the Danish Economics Ministry presented new evidence that duties on footwear would inflict annual losses of €295 million on Europe’s consumers and on European footwear companies producing in China and Vietnam. Those manufacturers calling for duties would gain about €37 million.

The European Commission’s proposal to exclude kids’ shoes and Special Technology Athletic Footwear (STAF) is an effort to limit the damage and is worthy of full support. STAF footwear is no longer produced in Europe but has been imported from Asian countries for the last two decades, while the exclusion of kids’ shoes would soften the blow to consumers.

“The Italian footwear association’s demand that high-technology athletic footwear should also be subject to import duties makes no sense whatsoever,” said Widmann. “It is not a newly invented loophole, as a few Italian manufacturers like to claim, but a clearly defined and longstanding product category of the EU customs code which has been excluded from trade defence measures for over a decade.”

FESI also questions the “compelling evidence” of dumping that the Commission claims to
have found. The state subsidies reportedly found in China and Vietnam, even if true, would be
no legal basis for anti-dumping measures. The Commission’s findings on dumping appear to
be based largely on unjustifiable decisions made during the anti-dumping investigation, such
as the massive denial of market economy status to Chinese and Vietnamese suppliers and the
use of Brazil as comparison country.

Europe’s consumers are sure to pay the price for duties. While EU Trade Commissioner Peter
Mandelson has invited retailers and importers to absorb the duties, they are actually under a
legal obligation to pass on the amount of the duties to consumers by increasing the price of
the allegedly dumped products, unless they sacrifice their profit.

“The EU anti-dumping regulation obliges us to charge higher prices to consumers,” said Karl
Sedlmeyer, FESI’s Vice-President. “When those trying to justify anti-dumping measures ask
us to absorb duties, they basically make us the scapegoat.”

According to FAIR, the Footwear Association of Importers and Retailchains, by pushing through the introduction of anti-dumping measures regardless of the fact that 22 Member States are against the current proposal, or at least consider that an improvement is required, he ignores the actual advice of the Member States and harms the interests of the EU.

EU footwear companies active in design, import, logistics, and retail sales of shoes will have to pay approximately €150 million in anti-dumping duties during the next six months. This is because for this period, purchases have already been made and the re-sales prices of these purchases are already confirmed. At the same time, the EU producers that are expected to gain from anti-dumping measures will not obtain a comparable benefit. Over the same period, their benefit will be €4 million.

According to Paul Verrips, president of FAIR, “the measures are therefore entirely disproportionate”. The fact that these measures will be provisional and not definitive does not change this situation. In 95% of all anti-dumping cases the provisional duties are actually levied.