Argentina's shoe industry is worried about the negative impact that a possible reduction of import tariffs could have on the trade.

The spectre of such cuts came as part of the World Trade Organization's six-day Ministerial conference on global trade, which concluded Sunday (January 18) in Hong Kong.

Under the negotiations, aimed at removing global trade barriers by the end of 2006, rich countries pressured developing ones to accept import-duty cuts for certain industrial sectors in exchange for greater access to farming markets in the developed world.

The talks were pursued under the so-called Non-Agricultural Market Access or NAMA proposals.

In a statement, Argentina's shoe trade federation Camara Industrial del Calzado said the industry made no progress in its pleas for the sector to be exempted from the NAMA proposals, which also calls for lower trade duties for the textiles industry.

If approved, the NAMA could bring a 200% cut to shoe import duties, "destroying the industry", which is currently protected by high import taxes, the CIC's secretary general Horacio Moschetto said in a statement.

By Ivan Castano