EU executive body the EC has launched an investigation into whether China and India are dumping footwear on the European market.

The probe, which follows pleas from European manufacturers and trade groups, centres on Indian and Chinese safety shoes that are allegedly being sold in European at below the cost of production.
The investigation may last for up to 15 months, but the EC hopes to complete it within 9 months.

China's exports of six groups of shoes rose 681 per cent throughout the first four months of this year, with prices over the period plummeting 28 per cent, the EC reported earlier this month.

China has already agreed to restrict increases in textiles exports to the EU to between eight and 12.5 per cent per year until 2007, following ongoing pressure from EU manufacturers who fear that their trade will be badly affected as Chinese goods fill the market since global quotas ended.

A senior Chinese official is due to arrive in the EU's home city of Brussels on Monday to discuss the issue with EC officials.