EU member states Germany, Austria and Malta, have decided to abstain on a crucial vote on whether or not to extend anti-dumping duties on footwear imports from China and Vietnam angering the UK footwear industry.
Last month 15 EU member states voted against the proposed extension of the anti-dumping duties, which add a 16.5% tariff to shoes made in China and 10% to shoes made in Vietnam. Some 10 EU member states voted in favour of the extension and two abstained from voting.
The vote was seen as a first round victory for the industry and for the Drapers Dump the Duties campaign.
However, a sudden U-turn by the three member states ahead of the final vote on December 22, has shocked the UK footwear industry as Germany had previously declared its opposition to the continuation of the duties.
Germany has decided to abstain on condition that the duties come to a definitive end in 15 months’ time, despite the European Commission’s admission that there can be no legal guarantee of this.
“This is a catastrophe for all those who care about European business, European consumers and, more broadly, about Europe’s place in the world, and it raises serious questions about the application of EU trade law and policy in these times of economic crisis” said Manfred Junkert, director of the Federation of the German Footwear Industry.
The European Footwear Alliance is now consulting its members with a view to launching a legal challenge.