Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

EU extends Chinese shoe tariffs

Chinese worker in a shoe factory
Chinese shoes will be subject to a 16.5% tariff

The European Union has voted to extend tariffs on shoes from China and Vietnam in order to help European producers compete with cheaper imports.

The tariffs, which were first introduced in 2006, will last for a further 15 months.

A number of countries in the EU were opposed to the extension.

China is involved in a number of trade disputes, and on Monday lost an appeal to the World Trade Organization regarding US film and music imports.

The organisation ruled in August that China's policy of allowing the goods to be imported only by state-run firms broke global trade rules.

The tariffs on Chinese shoes will remain at 16.5%, and those on Vietnamese shoes will remain at 10%.

'Inflated prices'

The decision to extend the tariffs was not unanimous.

UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "I am disappointed the EU has decided to extend these duties - they should have been allowed to end as originally agreed.

"A small majority of member states did not oppose the measures even though they are no longer justified."

He said that maintaining the duties "damages trade, harms the reputation of Europe and forces consumers to pay higher prices at a time when they can least afford it".

He also called on the EU to "turn its back on protectionism".

While the extension will benefit EU shoemakers, it has also proved unpopular among some retail groups in Europe.

"This will be a signal to failing companies around Europe that the Commission will step in and protect them from foreign competition," said the British Retail Consortium.

"Consumers will have to keep paying inflated footwear prices."

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