CHINA / National

China hits out at EU plan for shoe quotas
Updated: 2006-07-04 18:55

China on Tuesday criticised proposed new EU curbs on Chinese-made leather shoes as unacceptable and a violation of world trade rules.

The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, plans to recommend a quota-based system for imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam, according to EU diplomats.

The so-called deferred duties system would replace preliminary anti-dumping taxes introduced in April after countries with shoe industries of their own, led by Italy, complained the imports were being dumped in the bloc.

Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a Ministry of Commerce think tank, called the new proposal just as objectionable as the initial dumping ruling.

"The only reasonable thing for the EU to do is to end the anti-dumping duties," Mei said.

Under the new plan, the EU would levy normal duties on 140 million pairs of leather shoes each year from China and slap punitive duties of 23 percent on imports beyond that level.

Chinese officials have rejected the idea of such a quota-based system, saying it would be incompatible with the World Trade Organisation, which China joined in 2001.

China has suggested it could turn to the WTO's dispute-settlement body over the issue.

"China has made great efforts to fulfil its WTO commitments, and the EU should also keep its promises," Mei said.

Zhou Wei, a spokesman for Aokang, a big shoe manufacturer based in the eastern city of Wenzhou, said the new proposal was unacceptable and fundamentally no different from the preliminary anti-dumping measures.

One of China's main complaints is that the European Union does not regard it as a market economy. Without that status, Chinese exporters are more vulnerable to EU duties because the commission considers costs in other countries -- where they are often higher than in China -- when calculating if goods are being dumped in Europe.

"We will continue to fight for market economy status for our company and for the whole shoe-manufacturing industry of China, together with other Chinese shoe producers," Zhou said.

Aokang, which sends more than 70 percent of its shoe exports to the 25-member EU, has already spent more than 2 million yuan (US$250,000) on legal advisers in Brussels.

Aokang is a member of a coalition of Chinese shoe manufacturers that has been to Brussels to lobby the Commission. An official with the group said on Tuesday the consortium would continue to negotiate with the EU.