Tens of thousands of jobs and interests of European customers fall victim to protectionist tendencies.

With an extremely close vote last week the Council of Ministers of the EU Member States adopted the proposal of the European Commission to impose anti- dumping customs duties on footwear imports from China and Vietnam. “We will not accept this decision,” Paul Verrips, president of the Footwear Association of Importers and Retailchains (FAIR), declares. “It is directed against the interests of European consumers and will lead to a loss of tens of thousands of jobs within the industry.” For footwear imports from China the additional duties amount to 16.5% and for shoes from Vietnam 10%. “Extra costs of this dimension cannot be absorbed, as we repeatedly claimed to the EU Commission. The margins within our highly competitive market are too small. The duties will inevitably lead to rising consumer prices,” Verrips continues.

The association considers legal measures against the anti-dumping duties. “Not only this decision but the entire investigation is characterized by a variety of procedural errors. We have consistently pointed this out. Currently we are checking into possibilities for legal action,” says Paul Verrips.

For months the EU Member States have rejected the introduction of anti-dumping duties. “The majority of the Member States realized that these measures are neither reasonable, nor do they comply with the basic principles of the EU,” Verrips emphasizes. “Massive political pressure on part of southern European states brought the proposal to its arguable victory. Interestingly, the majority of EU member states still rejected the new regulation. 12 Member States disapprove the anti-dumping duties and a mere nine states voted in favor for them. It is only a dubious particularity within the EU anti-dumping voting process that made it possible for the controversial duties to be introduced. Abstentions from voting are counted as “yes” votes, rather than being indifferent. Furthermore, the so-called “compromise proposal” plays another questionable role in the introduction of the duties. It proposes measures for two years instead of the initially intended five years, followed by a reassessment. “This so-called compromise, however, does not bring us any improvement,” Verrips stresses. “The level of duties stays the same, and due to the subsequent review investigation, Member States and the Commission will even need to invest more money and time. This is an incredible waste of public funds. In fact, this compromise only holds disadvantages.”

FAIR Footwear Association of Importers and Retailchains:

The association represents the interests of more than 100 footwear importers and retailers. Members are companies such as Columbia (France, USA), Clarks (United Kingdom), Deichmann (Germany), Wortmann (Germany), Leder & Schuh (Austria), Skechers (USA) und Vivarte (France), with a total of approximately 90.000 employees, which represent approximately 50% of the import volume in the EU.