15 EU countries declared their opposition to proposals to extend the import duties on leather footwear from China and Vietnam to the European Commission yesterday but it remains unclear what the EC will take.
The opposition of 15 countries from 27 is a majority but the EC has the ultimate decision as to whether the import duties should be extended and does not need approval from members.
Should the EC decide to drop the tarriffs, which have pushed up prices for UK footwear suppliers and retailers, it could face court action from the Italians or Spanish, who are keen to protect their own footwear manufacturing industries from rock bottom prices out of the Far East.
Emma Ormond, trade consultant, at PriceWaterHouseCoopers said: "The Commission has to go away look at the options and do some thinking. But ultimately it must make a decision by October 6. I am more hopeful now than I was before."
The British Retail Consortium said it was now "close to victory" on the tarriff row.
BRC director general Stephen Rbertson said: "After years of determined BRC opposition we are close to a victory that will benefit both customers and retailers. Enough countries have now come out against importa taxes to kill them off for good. The Commission must acknowledge its review of the duties' future is now pointless and abandon them."