The European Commission is considering a ruling against anti-dumping duties imposed on leather footwear made in China and Vietnam, and imported into the European Union. If it accepts, UK footwear retailers may soon be able to claim refunds on the duties.
Anti-dumping duties were originally imposed by the EU in 2006 to prevent cheap Chinese and Vietnamese footwear imports flooding the European market and putting local producers out of business.
The taxes on cheap imports from China (around 16.5%) and Vietnam (10%) were introduced with a promise that they would last just two years, but were extended.
Between 2010 and 2012, both Clarks and Puma challenged the duties in the UK and German courts respectively. Clarks is seeking repayment of around €60m (£46.3m) in anti-dumping duties paid on footwear imported into the EU between July 2007 and August 2010, while Puma claims it is owed €5.1m (£3.9m).
The case was subsequently referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Earlier this month, the ECJ ruled that the EU did not comply with certain procedural rules when adopting the regulation to impose the duties. It found the EU had failed to consider certain manufacturers in these countries as independent, free market actors when assessing the cost of making their shoes.
A spokesman for the European Commission said: “The commission will assess the outcome of the ruling and its implications before advising customs authorities on how to implement it.”