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Industry wins initial victory on Asia duties

The footwear industry is celebrating a first-round victory in the battle to block proposals to extend anti-dumping duties on leather footwear imported from China and Vietnam.

EU member states last week voted against the European Commission’s proposal to extend the duties on leather footwear sourced from China and Vietnam after Drapers, along with leading industry trade bodies, launched its Dump The Duties campaign.

The vote is a triumph for the industry and consumers. The duties – a 16.5% tariff on the cost of leather footwear from China and 10% on that from Vietnam – have led to an average price increase of £1.60 on a pair of shoes, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which backed Drapers’ Dump The Duties campaign along with support from the British Footwear Association.

Shoppers have been forced to fork out in excess of £330m a year in additional costs for leather shoes sourced from China and Vietnam as a result of the tariffs since their introduction in 2006.

According to a source close to the situation, 15 EU member states voted against the proposed extension of the measures, 10 voted in favour and two abstained.

However, PricewaterhouseCoopers international trade consul-tant Emma Ormond said the Commission is expected to push the vote to the Member States Council for a final vote on December 22.

She said: “Although this is a great result we have only won the battle, not the war. It is a case of champagne in the fridge but the cork has not been popped yet.

“While the Council would generally be expected to rubber stamp any decision made at the technical level, this case has been so political this absolutely cannot be guaranteed.” “This is a major victory for customers, retailers and free trade,” said BRC Brussels director Alisdair Gray.

“In the past the EU has often been happy to talk about free trade while actually undermining it. The Commission will lose all credibility if it ignores this clear decision and tries to force a further vote of ministers.”

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