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Chinese footwear firms sue EC

Chinese footwear manufacturers with strong supply links in the UK have filed a lawsuit against the European Commission over footwear tariffs.

The suit has been filed in the European Court of First Instance by Risen Footwear, Lung Pao Footwear, Brosmann Footwear and sister company Seasonable Footwear. The suppliers are understood to do business across the entire footwear sector, from value to mid-market retailers.

They are appealing the EC's refusal to grant them a special status that would reduce or annul the 16.5% duty charged on leather shoes imported to the EU from China.

Emma Ormond, international trade consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the case could take two years to get to court and was sceptical of the plaintiffs' chances. "This is the second, but more legal, challenge from these parties. I wonder how strong a case they have."

The EC imposed import tariffs in October, arguing that the low prices of Chinese leather shoes sold in Europe were threatening local shoemakers.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has launched a consultation into the tariffs.

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