Duty could reach 23 per cent
UK retailers are protesting against the latest EU proposals to increase import taxes for leather shoes imported from the Far East.

Under the proposals, duty could be raised to 23 per cent and extended to children's shoes for the first time.

The plan followed concern that manufacturers in the Far East are receiving unfair government subsidies, making it impossible for EU companies to compete.

Under legislation introduced in April this year, import taxes for Chinese footwear start at 4.8 per cent, increasing to a maximum of 19.4 per cent. Tariffs on Vietnamese shoes begin at 4.2 per cent and will rise to 16.8 per cent.

The latest legislative proposals, announced yesterday, will be put to a vote on July 20. If enacted, the new tariffs will run to 2011.

British Retail Consortium director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'All these duties will do is wipe out any profit margin on leather shoe sales, forcing retailers to either raise prices or cut costs by axing jobs. There will be no long-term winners from this latest blow to the free-trade principles the EU says it supports.'