Anti-dumping measures are only viable if they are part of a wider strategy to adjust to increased Chinese trade, according to the EU Trade Commissioner.

Speaking during a European Parliament debate, Peter Mandelson said that Europe is justified in trying to "correct injury caused by unfair trading practice," but he warned that Europe should not pretend that competitive pressure is related solely to unfair trade.

Changing patterns of production, including outsourcing to Asia, mean that Europe has nothing to gain from closing the doors to competitive Asian exports, Mandelson said.

"Europe's trade defence measures target unfair trade. They cannot protect us from tough competition," he said. "They cannot shield us from Asia's natural and legitimate low-cost advantages. However, when those comparative advantages are topped up by unfair and uncompetitive practice we have a right and an obligation to act."

He continued: "Rising to the Asian challenge places great demands on our businesses and workers. But politics and policy can take a proactive hand in creating the conditions in which businesses and workers can adapt to economic change."

Mandelson welcomed the proposed creation of a Globalisation Adjustment Fund of EUR500m for immediate relief from job losses and business failures linked to globalisation. He said the EU must "equip today's Europeans for tomorrow's jobs".

Mandelson also said he was committed to developing blilateral trade and investment relationships between Europe and China, plus other Asian markets including Vietnam.

His remarks follow an onslaught of criticism from European retailers who have accused the EU of being anti-competitive and heavy-handed in its approach to rising Chinese exports.

He has recommended eventual duties of 16.8% on Vietnamese footwear exports and 19.4% on Chinese ones, starting gradually in April.

The EU believes there is solid proof that state intervention in the two nation's shoe sectors is allowing cheap finance, tax breaks, non-market land rents and improper asset valuation.