EU Ministers today voted in favour of a 15 month extension to anti-dumping duties on leather footwear imported from China and Vietnam.

The extension will be effective from January 2010. The duties, of 16.5% on leather footwear from China and 10% from Vietnam, were originally imposed in 2006 with a promise that they would last just two years. However this is the second time the European Commission has extended the terms beyond that initial period.

The European Footwear Alliance, which represents footwear companies such as Hush Puppies, Ecco, Gabor and Adidas, said it was “deeply disappointed” in the decision, which it calculated would cost European footwear companies in excess of EUR 1 billion.

 “The continuation of the anti-dumping duties on footwear for another 15 months is completely unacceptable. It shows that, despite all the public rhetoric, the EU prefers to follow its protectionist course at the expense of successful European footwear businesses and consumers. Economic logic and due process have been utterly disregarded throughout this case.  Our  only hope left is that this time round, the EU will actually honour its commitment to end these onerous duties after 15 months and not a day more,” said Manfred Junkert, director of the federation of the German Footwear Industry. 

The statement added that the Commission has promised that the duties will not be extended beyond 15 months. However, the European Footwear Alliance said it had seen no written evidence of this undertaking and that it was calling on the Commission to provide us with a cast iron guarantee that it will honour this latest commitment.

The European Footwear Alliance will added that it would continue to fight for the principles of free trade and that it was exploring every legal option to challenge what it said was an “unjust outcome”.