The European Commission is under pressure not to extend footwear anti-dumping laws after trade experts from a majority of EU states today made a surprise decision to oppose an extension of the duties.

European anti-dumping legislation currently imposes duties of 16.5 per cent on footwear from China and 10 per cent on shoes from Vietnam.

The legislation was due to expire in October this year, but the Italian-led European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC) had asked for a review of the duties, which the EU nations were expected to agree to.

Any review could have taken up to 15 months, during which the duties would have remained.

But trade officials from 15 of the 27 EU states, meeting in the anti-dumping committee, have rejected the proposal to extend the duties, and it is likely the Commission may agree.

The Commission's decision is expected on Friday.

British Retail Consortium director-general Stephen Robertson said: “Customers will be delighted that enough countries have now come out against import taxes to kill them off for good. The Commission must acknowledge its review of the duties’ future is now pointless and abandon them.

“Anti-dumping duties are too often about protecting the interests of a few uncompetitive European producers at the expense of consumers and retailers.

“We hope the opposition to these duties on footwear is an indication of a new determination among the majority of EU states to face down protectionism across other products such as homeware and clothing.”