Blog: Leonie BarrieFootwear trade secrets leaked

Leonie Barrie | 16 September 2008

Getting information out of the European Commission has always been tough – but this week it got even harder. Why? A report in The Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend in which a top EU official leaked trade secrets over lavish dinners – including details on the tariff on Chinese leather footwear which is due to be discussed with Member States tomorrow.

The official working in the department of Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the EC would call for an expiry review when current anti-dumping duties end next month – effectively extending the tariff for up to 15 months while evidence of dumping and injury is collected.

Speaking to reporters posing as industry lobbyists, the official said the proposal was unlikely to be rejected because Mandelson has made so many errors promoting free trade that he has no choice now but to introduce protectionist measures.

While the “educated guess” among industry observers I’ve spoken with today seems to support the hunch that a review will go ahead, it’s going to be an extremely controversial decision. Two years ago the move attracted widespread criticism from the two countries involved – China and Vietnam – some EU governments and trade groups, and of course international footwear companies sourcing shoes in Asia.

In fact, so controversial was the decision that the anti-dumping duties were introduced for just two years instead of the usual five. 

The Commission has always been incredibly critical of member states for leaking information – and here it is leaking it left, right and centre. The downside, now, though it that it’s playing its cards close to its chest. While details of tomorrow’s meeting will inevitably get out, what we will hear is the result of the meeting – and not necessarily the Commission’s final decision on the anti-dumping debate.


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