In the ongoing conflict between Europe and Asia regarding anti-dumping duties, EU minister Peter Mandelson has been accused of ‘hurting low-income families’ following a new tariff that will affect children’s shoes. The EU Commission’s plan will be proposed to national ministers this summer. The tariffs will be added to the wholesale price of shoes with leather uppers and man-made soles.

This latest measure to protect the European shoe industry could cost parents an extra £20 a year when buying children’s shoes, according Peter Lamble, chairman and joint managing director of Start-Rite shoes Only 15% of the company’s shoes are manufactured in Europe and one pair of shoes in ten comes from China or Vietnam.

‘I would be very surprised if this saves European jobs’, Lamble said and thought that the move would simply force manufacturers to move production from China to India.

The current six-month tariffs are due to end in October and do not include children’s shoes. But this has led one Italian shoemakers’ association to sue Mandelson in an EU court accusing him of exceeding his powers when he excluded children’s shoes.

However, reports from Brussels indicate that Britain has struck a deal with Italy from October that will allow around half of the shoes imported from China and Vietnam per year to enter Britain without tariffs in return for a measure that will limit the amount of salmon imported from Norway. The remaining shoes imported from China would be subjected to a 23% duty and 29.5% respectively for Vietnam.