Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Friday, 7 April 2006 12:41 UK

EU imposes Asian shoe penalties

Chinese shoe store
Chinese shoe exports to the EU are worth 241m euros (168m)

The EU has begun imposing duties of up to 20% on imports of shoes from China and Vietnam.

The European Commission says leather shoe manufacturers in the Far East are receiving unfair government subsidies.

China denies the accusation, saying the EU does not want to open up its markets to competition.

The move is supported by EU nations with large shoe industries such as Italy, but others such as the UK fear it could increase prices for consumers.

The European Commission says it has "identified clear evidence of disguised subsidies and unfair state intervention to the leather footwear sector in China and Vietnam".

It is concerned that a wave of cut-price imports could force European shoemakers out of the market.

The tariffs will initially be relatively low, but will be ramped up steadily over the next five months. In the case of China, they could rise to nearly 20%.


The move has wholehearted support from countries such as Italy and Portugal, who are anxious to protect their shoe manufacturers.

But other member states, such as the UK, oppose them because they are likely to push up prices for consumers, and could mean lower sales for retailers.

China has urged the EU to reconsider its action, saying the planned measures are unfair.

Chinese officials say there is no evidence of dumping and question whether the duties conform with World Trade Organization rules.

China exported 1.2bn pairs of shoes to Europe last year, while Vietnam exported 265m pairs.

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