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Toch verhoging tarieven import voor schoenen (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op donderdag 3 december 2009, 17:18.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission pushed ahead with a formal proposal to extend tariffs on certain Asian shoe imports on Wednesday (2 December), amid new signs that member states are likely to support the measure in a vote later this month.

The move was overseen by the commission's current stand-in trade chief Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who has temporarily taken over the commerce reigns until a new EU executive is up and running early next year.

Former trade commissioner Catherine Ashton took up her new post as high representative for foreign affairs on 1 December.

Last month an advisory committee of national experts voted against an informal commission proposal to extend the tariffs, but three member states subsequently appear to have changed their minds.

In is unclear why the three - Germany, Austria and Malta - now look set to abstain from the extension vote later this month, but the move would result in a majority of EU countries in favour of the commission proposal.

Shoe producing countries such as Italy, Spain and Poland strongly support the measure.

If approved, the extension will prolong the current shoe tariffs of 16.5 percent and a 10 percent on Chinese and Vietnamese imports respectively by a further 15 months.

The measures - which only apply to leather shoes - had been due to expire at the end of this year.

The commission says Chinese and Vietnamese firms continue to dump their products on the European market at below production cost, justifying the anti-dumping duties.

The European Footwear Alliance, representing a number of large importing companies such as Adidas, attacked the apparent change of position by the three member states.

"This sudden U-turn is a catastrophe for all those who care about European business, European consumers and, more broadly, about Europe's place in the world," said Manfred Junkert, director of the Federation of the German Footwear Industry.

"It raises serious questions about the application of EU trade law and policy in these times of economic crisis," he added.

China has openly criticized the EU plans to extend the tariffs, with further trade discord provided this week at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Geneva.

The meeting appeared to make little headway towards completing the Doha development round of multilateral trade talks that have now been dragging on for eight years.

Rising protectionism and sluggish EU and US growth mean world trade looks set to fall by nine percent this year.

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