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Tell the EC to dump the footwear duties

Jessica Brown

The European Commission is proposing to extend anti-dumping duties on leather footwear imported from China and Vietnam for a further 15 months.

To date, the duties, which came into force three years ago, have cost members of the European Footwear Association [EFA], which include Clarks, Hush Puppies and Ecco, upwards of €800m (£744.2m). The average wholesale price of a pair of shoes has also risen by €1.50 (£1.40).

These are massive cost implications for a sector already under pressure. The UK has recently witnessed the collapse of footwear specialists such as Stylo, Faith, Stead & Simpson and Shoe Studio Group. The result was thousands of job losses in retail, and who knows how many more further down the supply chain.

That the EC would even consider extending duties is crazy. The Italian and Spanish footwear manufacturing industries, who lobbied for the duties to be introduced, specialise in higher-priced small-run production and, duties or no duties, we certainly aren’t going to see a Made in Italy leather shoe in Tesco any time soon, especially as sterling is at a seven-month low against the euro. Sterling’s weakness against the dollar and rising freight costs are also exacerbating the impact on Far Eastern imports.

This week, Drapers has launched a Dump the Duties campaign. We intend to submit a dossier of evidence about the real effect on UK footwear firms to the EC ahead of the November vote.

Please add your voice and protect your shoppers from price rises on our Dump the Duties Campaign page.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Working as part of a low cost retailer it is very disappointing to hear that anti dumping duties will be in place for longer than we anticipated. I often find myself answering a common question from our buyers as to why we have ADD in place - in addition to regular import duty. The textbook answer would be, amongst other reasons, to protect trade in the EU. However, we all know that the reality of it is that ADD on Chinese and Vietnamese footwear has either meant a shift in production to other manufacturing countries such as India or a hit on the margin. We simply can not afford Italian footwear and all that ADD has done is add cost into the supply chain at a time when the economy is already struggling. It is about time that ADD is removed so that we can pass the cost benefit onto our customers. I fully support the Drapers Dump the Duties campaign.

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  • As a product development / import company the impact of the ADD has seen job losses both in the UK and China
    Costs pushed us more towards countries like Indian. However, we have stayed 97% with China for the quality and service, resulting in increased prices and less margin. Not to the Euro block.
    It is hard to understand how India has 4.5% duty with no ADD with China already 8% Duty plus the 16.5% ADD (+20%)
    The closers in China are well documented. What are not clear are the jobs loss’s in Europe because of the reduction in the China spending power on white goods and management services.
    Having been in the footwear industry for 40 years I remember well the decimation of the UK footwear manufacturing when Portugal / Italy & Spain swamped the UK with products. Why not give the public the best quality at fair prices now.

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  • As an importer from the Far East and India we have been hit by both the ADD and the fall in the value of Sterling which meant that we had to initially absorb most of the additional costs resulting in loss of jobs and investment.

    The ADD on China only resulted in most importers switching their production to India where the duty is only 4.5%, making even lower prices and lower quality shoes in the market place.

    The factory prices from India together with the lower rate of duty should be considered more Anti Dumping than China with 8% import duty nearly double that of India.

    The leather shoes from China have to compete with pre-assembled uppers made up in European factories should not be considered as Anti Dumping just because they are competitive, the factories making shoes with these imported uppers have probably caused more factory closures in Europe than the Chinese production.

    These factories did not think twice when they destroyed the U.K. footwear industry using cheaper labour in the past, if ADD remains on leather footwear from China the ADD should also be imposed on footwear and leather uppers from India, then we would have a level playing field.

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  • I'd like to see more tariffs against third would countries, but based on a points system measuring democracy and welfare provision that does not change so quickly or un-predictably over time. And I'd like a tariff on non-leather shoes from China.

    One argument against tariffs and in favour of high currency exchange rates that make far eastern goods seem even cheaper is that demand transforms third world countries into ones with similar wage rates to Europe. But I think this process happens a lot quicker if the governments of - say - Chinese states have incentives to increase free education and re-open the free hospitals that they have recently been closing. I think the trickle-down effect of wealth and education works a lot quicker in a democracy.

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