The fight against poverty in Vietnam could suffer a setback if the European Commission goes ahead with a threatened increase in dumping duties against its leather shoes. The Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) president Nguyen Gia Thao estimated that half of the one million workers employed by footwear manufacturers would be affected and about 90,000 would lose their jobs if the tax was raised from the current 4.28% to 16.8%.

Action Aid Viet Nam (AAV), an NGO from the UK, and Lefaso have sent a research team to twenty footwear companies in both the north and south to study workers’ situations if the tax is raised in September.

AAV said in a statement that this anti-dumping case was an unfair trade practice which would negatively impact the livelihood of many workers in the footwear industry. Ngo Van Hoai, AAV’s technical expert, said if the tax was raised the outcome would be devastating.

Of the 3,000 labourers working for HCM City’s Lien Phat Footwear Company, almost 1,000 have lost their jobs due to a fall in orders. Lefaso said most workers in the footwear industry were in their early twenties who had migrated without finishing their education to earn money to support their families back home.