The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industries (FESI) issued a statement urging EU member states to agree on a solution for antidumping measures on footwear during the meeting of the Antidumping Committee in Brussels this week to re-establish certainty for economic operators and allow for continued growth of EU trade with China and Vietnam.

Overall a deferred duties system, if carefully designed in agreement with the two Asian governments, could mean a fairer deal for consumers, for the European footwear industry and for retailers, unlike the current punitive duties.

However, such a system must be administered transparently and ensure predictability, basing antidumping duty-free import volumes on historical trade flows of individual operators and allowing for substantial annual growth of these volumes during the lifetime of the measures.

Arbitrary measures, such as a first-come-first-served quota allocation system, are unworkable and will lead to chaos in the market similar to that of last summer’s textile crisis.

FESI is deeply concerned that the proposed duties are considerably higher than under the previous proposal, especially in the case of Vietnam. This runs counter to any development policy logic: Vietnam, which saw its exports to the EU decline and prices rise in 2005, will be capped to a lower export level and face substantially higher duties than China.

FESI also questions the Commission’s refusal to grant Market Economy Status (MES) to all but one supplier. Chinese and Vietnamese footwear companies operate in a highly competitive environment. We therefore ask the EU to review the decision.

Furthermore, the re-inclusion of children shoes is a dangerous step back into protectionism and will hurt Europe’s poorer families with children most.

In the end, the measures will therefore have the worst impact on vulnerable consumers as well as on workers in one of the poorest developing countries in the world. The other victim will be EU-China relations at a time when the European Union is asking China to become a responsible partner in the multilateral trading system and open up to Europe’s companies.

FESI calls on all member states to end over 12 months of uncertainty and unpredictability for the footwear market in Europe by voting on the proposed EU measures as soon as possible.