The European Commission rejected a complaint by China to the World Trade Organization that the EU executive’s anti-dumping tariffs on imports of certain Chinese-made shoes breached WTO rules.

Beijing has formally requested that the global trade watchdog set up a dispute panel to rule on the legality of the Commission’s decision in 2006 to impose duties of up to 16.5 percent on shoe imports from China. “The European Commission strongly rejects China’s claim made today that the EU’s anti-dumping measures against certain footwear from China are not in line with the EU’s WTO obligations,” Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

The Commission, executive arm of the EU, imposed the duties on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes following a complaint by European manufacturers who argued that they were unable to compete with low-cost producers from the two countries.

China had sought a formal consultation with the WTO over the dispute in February, after ministers from the 27-country EU decided to extend the duties by 15 months in December last year.

Such consultations are a first step in the world trade body’s dispute-settlement process. The move failed to tackle China’s concerns, prompting the request for a panel.

“It doesn’t matter if they reject the request this time, we will get the panel automatically next time,” an official from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.

WTO rules allow a panel to be convened upon the second request, though the defendant may block the first request. (Reuters)