The European Commission is likely to impose a provisional tax on imports of
Chinese leather shoes, despite disagreement about the move among member states.
The final decision, the result of allegations that Chinese firms "dumped"
cheap shoes in the European Union (EU), is scheduled to be made next week.
The EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson proposed late last month to levy an
anti-dumping tariff on Chinese leather shoes beginning from April.
The tariff rate will start at about 4 per cent and rise to around 20 per cent
EU member states were split in the latest vote on Mandelson's proposal on
Thursday, but the coalition in favour of free trade was not strong enough to
prevent the proposal from taking effect.
Among the EU member states, the Financial Times reported that three countries
Belgium, Slovakia and Malta voted in favour of the duties. Nine or 10, including
Sweden, Ireland and Slovenia, voted against and 11 abstained.
Abstentions are counted as votes in favour.
"Under the rules of the EU, a majority in a vote of member states is needed
to overrule a proposal by the European Commission," explained Li Fayin, a legal
expert with Beijing Allbright Law Offices. In this case, with abstentions
counted, there were more votes in favour.
According to a statement published on the commission's website, EU member
states expressed a wide range of views, both in favour of stronger provisional
measures and in favour of more restricted action.
"The commissioner's proposals represented a middle ground," it said.
China's official response from the Ministry of Commerce was not available on
Although high-tech sports shoes and children's shoes are exempt from the tax,
the tariffs are still expected to deal a heavy blow to China's shoe-making
industry, said an unnamed insider close to the situation.