China supplies around half of the worlds shoes

China supplies around half of the world's shoes

Mexico's shoe industry has urged the government to shut the market to Chinese shoes, which imports have risen nearly 70% so far this year, triggering huge sales losses and jobs in the industry.

"We are asking the government to do this as soon as possible as we cannot compete with China," a spokeswoman for local shoe trade federation Ciceg confirmed its president Armando Martin Duenas as telling the VIII International Shoe Congress in Guanajuato, Mexico, which gather industry leaders from across Latin America in recent days.

Duenas argued that Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador have shut their borders to Chinese shoes "so why can't Mexico do this when it costs us 42% to import our shoes there?" Duenas asked.

China is estimated to be supplying 50% of the world's shoes currently and it plus India have eclipsed Italy, Espana and France to seize three-fourths of the global market, Duenas noted.

Chinese shoe imports doubled to 3.1m pairs between January and July 2010 compared to the same 2009 period, putting the industry on tenterhooks. This, Duenas said, happened despite a temporary duty as high as 120% to a limited amount of Chinese imports which is expected to decline in December 2011 when import quotas are eliminated.

In that regard, the sector has also asked the government to postpone the elimination of import quotas for Chinese shoes to 2015 from December 2011 to give local producers the chance to strengthen their business and safeguard 413,000 jobs. It has moreover requested the introduction of import quotas for Vietnamese and Indonesian imports.

Duenas said 20m pairs of Chinese shoes also enter via contraband through the US border while other large amounts come under subvalued prices from Vietnam and Indonesia.

Despite this, Hugo Perez Cano of the Economy Ministry's international commerce department, was quoted in the conference as saying Chinese shoe imports are falling since 2008 because of the higher duties the Chinese must pay to bring their merchandise. He said the industry must back its claims with statistics, adding: "We need to see real proof that any illegal and dumping practices are hurting the industry."

Duenas said the sector is working on just that, adding that it is carrying out a series of studies to prove its points and that these should be ready next year, to show both the government and the WTO.

Meanwhile, the sector has launched a new restructuring plan called Mi Zapateria to boost shoe production in the country.

In a ray of hope for the trade, during the international forum, Brazil and Mexico's she trade associations agreed to study the possibility of signing a free-trade deal between the two countries.