Anti-dumping will run and run

26 June 2006

News from around the world is as much coloured by the onset of the new Chinese import regulations as it is by the anti-dumping measures being levied by the EU against footwear from China and Vietnam. Many have expressed their disquiet about the import tariffs which are being introduced on a sliding scale and which will, ultimately, hit the people who can least afford it: the poorly paid workers in China and Vietnam. The fight against poverty in Vietnam will suffer a major setback if the European Commission goes ahead with the 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%. And it does not end there. Now there are discussions said to be underway between EU officials over whether or not to extend the import taxes to include children's shoes. When the import charges of up to 20% were slapped on in April it was said that only adult shoes would be affected. Indeed, children's shoes were to be unaffected. Initially the charges were introduced for six months only but EU officials will decide in the near future whether they should be extended for another five years. There are concerns that countries such as Italy, Spain and Poland might also vote to extend the duty to cover children's footwear. Only thirteen votes are required for the measures to succeed. And if things weren't bad enough, Mexico is now considering taking their own measures against Vietnamese footwear which they claim is being dumped on their domestic market. According to reports, the exports of cheap Vietnamese shoes to Mexico has increased 132% in recent years, from 6.8 million pairs in 2003 to 15.8 million in 2005. In Guangdong, China, there has been a sharp drop in shoe exports as a result of the new duties. In January exports reached ten million pairs but in April this had dropped to five million. Still in China, word is that most of the customs handbooks will expire this summer at which point one must assume that China's thirst for US raw hides will abate. Indeed, since there are no signs that leather demand has increased to any great extent the market must face the fact that China will have bought the bulk of their annual requirement for hides. Having said that, in the week ending May 11, China still contracted for 346,800 hides, ordering far more than any other country that week. Competition in all areas of the leather and related trades is becoming increasingly fierce. One example is the head to head battle between mighty footwear exhibitions Micam in Italy and GDS in Germany. With a damaging clash of dates earlier this year, GDS are pulling out all the stops to add value to their event in order to make their show more attractive to buyers and visitors alike. GDS are introducing 'white cubes - contemporary shoe design' which will offer more privacy to progressive shoe brands who do not like the open plan concept. There are also special sections for men's footwear, Kids' World, high fashion, TrendVision and, perhaps, the biggest draw: Design Attack. This successful platform is limited to 100 young designers and to keep this area fresh and lively designers are limited to only four shows. After this they have to move onto one of the other sectors which allows room for more up and coming talent. Shelagh Davy  

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