Blog: Leonie BarrieShoe duties: trip-up or triumph?

Leonie Barrie | 20 November 2009

An EU vote in favour of ending shoe import duties should surely mark the end of the saga which has dragged on now for nearly four years. But that’s not necessarily the case. Under EU rules, the majority vote by the member states is not binding – and the EU's College of Commissioners will now discuss the issue before it goes to vote once more by Member States at the Council next month.

Retailers are urging the EC to accept that any plans for import taxes on shoes from the two Asian countries are dead and buried. Particularly since uncertainties over the duties are making it difficult for them to plan ahead and source footwear from China and Vietnam.

The EU originally introduced the duties on Chinese and Vietnamese footwear to protect uncompetitive producers, mainly in Italy and Spain. Despite EU promises that the tariffs would only last for two years, in 2008 they were extended by a further 15 months.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), they typically add GBP1.60 to the dockside cost of a pair of imported shoes.

And as BRC Brussels director, Alisdair Gray warns: “The Commission will lose all credibility if it ignores this clear decision and tries to force a further vote of ministers.”


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