Shoe Prices Set to Soar as EU Tackles Chinese Imports

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Shoe Prices Set to Soar as EU Tackles Chinese Imports


Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT

SHOE prices are set to soar because of a trade war with China, shoppers are being warned.

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will recommend today a 19 per cent tariff on leather shoes manufactured in the Far East.

He will say the duties are needed to stop shoemakers in Europe going out of business.

British retailers claim they will have no choice but to pass on the cost to consumers.

But Mr Mandelson is expected to highlight their huge profit margins on shoes from China and accuse them of "disingenuous" claims about their costs.

Sources close to an EU investigation into unfair selling practices by shoe manufacturers in China and Vietnam say he will recommend new duties from April. He is expected to call for taxes of just under 20 per cent on shoes from China and about 17 per cent on shoes from Vietnam.

China produces three quarters of the world's footwear, sending 950million pairs a year to Europe. Vietnam sends about 120 million pairs.

Shoe imports to Europe surged by 700 per cent during the first three months of last year but Italian shoe exports slumped by 15 per cent.

Mr Mandelson is set to recommend the new duties be phased in between April and October. He had faced demands for tariffs of up to 50 per cent and will argue the measures are proportionate-and "gentle". British retailers reacted with anger but a source close to the EU investigation said: "We are talking about shoes that cost about a8.5, or [pounds sterling]5 a pair. …

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