US footwear industry executives last week held a meeting with European trade officials to express their opposition to European anti-dumping cases against imported footwear from China, Vietnam and India.

The meeting was triggered by two anti-dumping cases being considered by the European Commission (EC), which has been investigating Asian shoe prices and may be about to impose punitive duties against Chinese leather and safety toe shoe exports it believes are being sold in Europe at prices cheaper than in China. 

Such action would also affect Vietnam, in the case of leather shoes, and India for safety shoes. Many of the shoes sold in Europe by US footwear companies come from these and other Asian countries. Most of the shoes subject to the dumping cases are no longer manufactured in Europe.
 
"If the Europeans liked their experience with the China textile debacle last summer, they are going to love it when the European Commission ends up imposing these new restrictions," said AAFA president & CEO Kevin M Burke. 

"European consumers will bear the brunt of any punitive duties. Ultimately, they will either have to pay a much higher price for their favorite brands or lose access to their favorite brands altogether as steep punitive duties could leave some store shelves empty." 

Burke continued, "The reality is that the footwear industry is sourcing its products from Asia and elsewhere, not Europe, and it will continue to do so. That trend is irreversible."
 
Joining Burke and other AAFA staff at the session were representatives from LaCrosse Footwear, New Balance, Polo Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Timberland and Wolverine World Wide - all of whom have a significant employment and investment presence in Europe.
 
In addition to expressing concern to the European officials over the potential impact these punitive tariffs will have on European consumers, footwear industry representatives also noted the devastating impact on the hundreds of thousands of workers footwear companies employ in Europe.
 
Footwear officials at the meeting also applauded the recent announcement by The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark formally opposing the ongoing anti-dumping cases, and expressed the hope that other members of the European Union will soon join in that position.
 
Footwear industry representatives have been working hard in Brussels and in the capitals of all 25 European member states in opposition to the anti-dumping petitions, noted Burke. 

"We will continue to work hard to convince the Europeans that imposition of duties in this case will be counterproductive and harmful to the European economy and consumers," he said.
 
The European Commission is expected to make preliminary recommendations in both anti-dumping cases early next year.

If the Commission recommends dumping duties on footwear imported from China, Vietnam and India, and if those recommendations are approved by the European Union's 25 member states, footwear companies could face dumping duties as high as 40-120% on the footwear they are selling into Europe as soon as late winter or early spring.