The Italian Footwear Association announced have announced that Chinese shoe imports to Italy rose by more than 900% during the first five months of 2005. The increase is faster than the 700% surge recorded for all of Europe during the first three months of 2005. Rossano Soldini, president of the Italian Footwear Association, ANCI, said that Italian shoe exports fell 15% by volume during the first quarter, more than twice the decline posted in 2004.

‘Things are getting worse’, Soldini said. ANCI and other European footwear groups have pressed anti-dumping charges against the Chinese saying they have proof some footwear is being sold below the cost of the raw materials used to make them. A ruling from the World Trade Organisation is expected before the end of the year. Soldinis said that 900,000 jobs in Europe are at risk, a third of them in Italy, where such jobs are disappearing at a rate of almost 3% a year.