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Dump The Duties: Lobby your MEP

With only 20 days left before a crucial vote by EU member states on whether to extend anti-dumping duties on Asian footwear, Drapers and trade associations the British Retail Consortium and British Footwear Association are calling on suppliers, brands and retailers to lodge their objections to the levies with their local MEPs.

The footwear industry has been incensed by the EU’s decision to propose the extension of the duties - which increase costs for the industry and push up prices for the customer - for another 15 months.

On average, a pair of shoes from China costs retailers around £9 and incurs a 16.5% tariff, while a pair fromVietnam costs about £10 with a 10% duty.

Customers are paying around £330m a year extra for leather shoes sourced from China and Vietnam.

The British Retail Consortium, which is backing Drapers’ Dump The Duties campaign - which is also supported by the BFA - are urging retailers, brands and suppliers to write to the MEPs and lodge their objections to the proposed extension.

It is hoped this will put pressure on EU Trade Commissioner Baroness Ashton to scrap this stealth tax on customers and retailers.

The EU is due to vote on whether to extend the duties by November 10, but your local MEPs need to hear the impact of the duties on your business by November 3.

What you can do: Write to your local MEPs now

The person ultimately responsible for taking the decision on whether to extend the duties is the EU Trade Commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

The people who can influence the Commissioner are your local MEPs many of whom are specialists in trade matters.

The British Retail Consortium and the British Footwear Association can help you contact your local MEP so do not hesitate to contact them at alisdair.gray@brc.org.uk or info@britfoot.com for further information.

Alternatively you can locate your local MEP by punching in your postcode at www.writetothem.com

The Letter

Below is an example of the type of letter you should write to your local MEP in support of the Dump The Duties campaign. You will also find it to cut out in this week’s Drapers magazine which will be published on October 24.

Please note that our campaign will have more impact if you can work the below into your own words and add in your own experiences and very real examples of how the duties have impacted your business.

 

I am very concerned about the prospect of another 15 months of European antidumping duties being imposed on imports of leather footwear from China and Vietnam.

 

As an importer / retailer / footwear producer / the cost of these duties to my business amounts to ­­­­­­­______ and in this economic climate will have a serious impact on our ability to invest in our products and people. I am already struggling to survive as consumers are simply not buying these days. Why is the EU further penalising me at this time? If the duties are extended I may well have to shed staff or cut back in future investment.

 

As my elected representative I would urge you to call on the EU Trade Commissioner to scrap these plans and help hard pressed business all over the UK.

 

Yours sincerely,

______________________

Readers' comments (5)

  • Dear subscribers of drapersonline.com,

    after reading through the comments of the "dump the duties campaign" and the gibberish in it (especially that about the quality of Chinese material, which anyhow has nothing to do with the AD measures) we think it's time you got also a different opinion on the matter.

    Here follows the open letter published today in F.T.

    Regards.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    European footwear industry asks EU Commission to extend anti-dumping duties on leather footwear imported from China and Vietnam.

    The European Commission has recently published the results of an extensive investigation, which lasted over a year, aimed at establishing whether the conditions exist to warrant extending anti-dumping duties on leather shoes imported from China and Vietnam.

    This document sets out the technical reasons why it is proven that the practice of dumping is continuing and is damaging to the European industry.

    The footwear producers therefore simply ask that the EU regulation be applied. This regulation specifies the application of compensatory measures to restore competitive conditions that must be the same for everyone. The existence of dumping and the damage suffered by EU industry implies the introduction of such measures.

    According to the EU regulation, the measures should be in force for 5 years.

    How is the anti-dumping duty currently applied calculated?
    It is the importation price increased by 16.5% (ad valorem duty) for Chinese shoes, and 10.0% for Vietnamese shoes.
    What is the average import price of leather products made by shoe manufacturers which are addressed by the anti-dumping measures?
    It is EUR 8.50 per pair for Chinese shoes (based on Eurostat figures for the average value in the period covered by the investigation: from July 2007 to June 2008) and EUR 9.50 per pair for Vietnamese shoes. The value of the duty is therefore EUR 1.40 per pair, which will be added to the price of shoes imported from China, and EUR 0.90 per pair, which will be added to the price of shoes imported from Vietnam.

    As soon as the results of the technical investigation conducted by the EU Commission were published, a pressure campaign was mounted in the main European media that aimed to show the pointlessness of these measures and, indeed, their alleged harmfulness.

    Two arguments have been used to support this thesis.

    The first is the presumed price increase for European consumers.
    Arguing that retail prices are heavily influenced by anti-dumping duties is completely false.

    As shown above, the increases in percentage terms are slender and are applied to prices that are very low: average import prices.
    In reality, the distribution of profit margins on the sale of footwear addressed by the duty has always been enormously biased in favour of big importers and distributors, which have long pocketed huge earnings compared to the average margin of a European producer, which is at best 6%.
    Similarly, it should be noted that the compensatory duties which the European footwear industry is asking to be extended address a minority share of the European common market, i.e. certain types of shoe with leather uppers. Of the total imported into the EU, it is 8.3% (of the 2008 total quantity for China, source: Eurostat) and 34.7% (of the 2008 total quantity for Vietnam, source: Eurostat).

    Extending the anti-dumping duties for 5 years is in the interest of European consumers because it guarantees that they will still have the option to choose.

    The distortion wrought on the European market by the invasion of Chinese and Vietnamese products introduced via dumping is intended to neutralise competition from European producers. Once EU-made products are driven out, the dominant position of Chinese and Vietnamese shoes implies that they will enjoy a monopoly. The European consumer will have no choice but to accept this state of affairs, since they will not have the option of choosing between an imported product and a locally-made one.

    The second argument is the presumed intrinsic weakness of the European footwear manufacturing industry which, now in its death throes, is apparently asking for help from EU political institutions.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The European footwear manufacturing industry is very much alive and competitive. With strong sales both on the European market and on extra-European markets, the industry is pursuing a policy of product innovation through ongoing investments in technology and materials research.
    The European footwear industry is not dying. It is more vibrant than ever. However, it is asking to be able to do business under the same conditions as its Asian competitors, with a single rules framework, to be followed by everyone, which has been established by the WTO.

    The anti-dumping duties that the European Council should introduce are therefore not protectionist measures.

    Recently other important countries have approved antidumping measures that are much more severe in order to compensate unfair competition from Asia.
    Brazil has introduced a fixed duty of US$ 12.47 on almost all types of Chinese footwear. Canada has recently ratified a similar decision on imports of waterproof footwear from China (duties from 21.7% to 52.3%) and from Vietnam (from 16% to 49%). Argentina is planning to do likewise.

    Far from imposing measures that deny Chinese and Vietnamese producers access to the EU market, the European Union simply needs to prove that the rules must be respected by everyone if we are to preserve an asset as precious as free international competition.

    Vito Artioli
    President of C.E.C.
    Confédération Européenne de l’Industrie de la Chaussure
    European Confederation of the Footwear Industry

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  • Thank you for your post.
    However, Drapers will continue to campaign against the proposed extension of measures. Our high street retailers and footwear specialists are not moving their sourcing back to Europe as a result of these measures. Indeed, most continue to source from China and Vietnam, where they have established relationships with factories that over the years, have come to understand their requirements on price, design and quality. Others have moved some production to territories like India.
    The Italian and Spanish manufacturing industries continue to produce great premium level and exceptionally-designed product and yes, the quality is superior to that coming out of China, but the price is prohibitive for some shoppers.
    And this is the point - China and Italy do not compete directly but serve two different customer types.
    There are shoppers that will always look to buy into 'made in Italy' shoes for the quality assurance and styling. There are others that look for cheap chic in the likes of New Look and Primark, two of the biggest footwear retailers in the country.
    There is space for footwear from both markets in the UK without the need for anti-dumping duties.
    We must protect UK jobs in the footwear industry. Retailers and suppliers should not have this extra burden on costs in what is an extremely challenging trading environment.
    Jessica Brown, editor, Drapers

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  • Vito's arguments are a little confusing. First he says that the duties don't make much difference as they are so low. He then says that Vietnamese and Chinese shoes are so dominant that consumers will be forced to buy nothing else as EU factories are driven out of production. Vito then ends by saying that actually everything is fine anyway and the EU industry is investing in technologies and products!

    Vito sadly gives the game away when he says he wants 5 year duties. Because we all know that the 15 months extension in the Commission proposal is nothing of the sort. The minority of EU producers who need protection will just keep coming back, asking for more expiry reviews, more extensions and its you and I who are paying for it.

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  • The antidumping duties are not against consumers and not even against big importers. They have been implemented because there is an evidence of dumping and injury to the european producers of footwear. The European Commission has reconfirmed this during the recent investigation.
    The antidumping duties are simply neccessary to reestablish a rule of fair competition in the footwear market!
    There are many producers outsourcing shoes in China, but on the other end there are thousands of small and medium companies producing footwear in the EU.
    Europe`s production today is not only Spain and Italy. There are countries like Poland, Romania, Slovakia etc. which are seriously affected by the dumping practice, where many thousands of workers risk their jobs.
    Think seriously about this!
    The producers want just a fair and equal rules for everybody.

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  • ewald widiner


    My congratulations to support the scrapping of that shameful duty.
    I bet Historians in economics will find that the anty dumping duty
    Implemented by Labours Peter Mandelson as EU Commissioner, was the Beginning of the currant crisis, of course not the only problem.
    China can produce not only cheap quality; it can produce the best as well.


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