Only in Venezuela did footwear association Cavenic manage to have an import duty of up to 300% applied to shoes manufactured in mainland China, but this measure did not cover shoes from other south east Asian countries and as contraband, the shoes simply ‘walked’ into the local market place.

Apparently, it is not difficult to obtain a Certificate of Origin stating that shoes destined for Venezuela were manufactured in Taiwan when in fact they had been manufactured in China, thus avoiding the punitive import tax. Venezuela does not have an embassy in Taiwan and is represented by the Panamanian embassy, which issued such bogus Certificates of Origin.

Now that China is entering the WTO as a full member, one wonders whether the 300% duty for Chinese shoe imports into Venezuela will still be enforcable, even though it is valid until May 2005.

If not, then legal imports will rise and the ‘official’ contraband statistics will decline. The effect on the local shoe industry will continue to be the same, but this time it will be legal.