„The tariffs will reduce European Union's shoe imports and hurt those European suppliers which have formed long-term partnership with Chinese shoemakers,” the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its Web site today. Chinese shoe manufacturers buy $600 million of raw materials from the EU each year, it said. The EU on October 4 imposed duties on €9.7 billion ($12.3 billion) of Chinese and Vietnamese footwear, accusing the two countries of selling shoes in Europe at unfairly low prices that harm its shoemakers. The levies, 16.5% for Chinese shoes and 10% for Vietnamese shipments, replace higher six-month duties that were phased in from April and end on October 7. The EU's actions are „shortsighted,” and constitute „trade protectionism,” the Chinese ministry said.
China said last week it may retaliate against the EU's decision, citing „legal shortcomings” in the process of setting the two-year tariffs. „The nation will reserve the right to take corresponding measures,” Chong Quan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, said on October 5. He didn't say what measures are being considered. China supplied half of the 2.5 billion pairs of shoes sold in Europe last year. EU imports of Chinese leather shoes climbed more than fourfold between 2001 and the 12 months through March 2005, raising China's share of the European market to 9% from 2.2% according to the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. (Bloomberg)