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EU to push extended duty on shoes from China, Vietnam

Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson plans to have the European Commission formally propose the duties on Aug. 30, his spokesman told journalists. The proposal revisits a split among the 25 EU countries, which rejected a similar plan on Aug. 4. „We still believe in the merits of the proposal,” Peter Power, Mandelson's spokesman, said in Brussels 28 August. The EU's provisional anti-dumping tariff, approved in March in response to a surge in imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam, expires Oct. 6. Extending the measure would further strain EU-China ties already damaged by clashes over Chinese textile exports and product piracy. Last month, a majority of EU countries led by Italy rejected a commission plan to allow tariff-free imports up to limits set near current levels. The tradeoff was that imports exceeding those quotes would then face higher duties. The commission came back with a simplified plan to impose a 16.5% duty on Chinese shoes and 10% on those from Vietnam, starting with the first pair. Sweden mustered a group of opponents, mainly fellow northerners, to defeat the plan in an Aug. 4 test vote. „We are against these sorts of measures in principle,” said Karin Eckerdal, trade counselor for the Swedish government in Brussels. „We don't see the case for it.” A repeat of those votes would allow unlimited, tariff-free imports of the footwear starting Oct. 7. EU imports of Chinese leather shoes climbed more than fourfold between 2001 and the 12 months through March 2005, raising the country's share of the European market to 9% from 2.2%, according to the commission. Vietnam's shipments almost doubled over the same period, boosting the country's share of the EU market to 14% from 7%. (Bloomberg)