European footwear alliance welcomes end of anti-dumping duties on leather footwear ex China and Viet

Following the publication of the notice of expiry of certain antidumping measures today, the European footwear alliance (EFA) welcomes the end of EU anti dumping duties on leather footwear on April 1, 2011. Although the positive news of termination was shared already at the beginning of January it is only now that our industry can start planning and developing its future business strategies for footwear.

EFA remains vigilant and cautious on the Commission’s stated initiative to monitor for one year the evolution of the imports of footwear with uppers of leather originating in the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam. We are looking forward to maintaining an ongoing open dialogue with the Commission on development and assessment of the import figures.

It is in the common interest of EFA members, the Commission and member-states to understand any concerns as they arise and work on appropriate solutions as necessary. Footwear industry members as represented by EFA are operating on mid-term production plans and commitments well beyond a 12 months cycle.

Open markets will provide the best conditions for a strong European footwear sector in the future

European producers have repositioned to play to their strengths. The latest available figures show very encouraging improvements in Italy, which accounts for nearly half of the EU’s production value. Indeed Italian exports in the 2nd and 3rd quarters increased by nearly 20%. Over the 4th quarter, exports even increased by around 30%! This demonstrates Italy’s competitiveness and reflects the global reality that consumer demand is increasing in emerging markets, whereas it is less dynamic in the mature markets of Europe.

Future jobs and economic growth lie in those parts of the supply chain in which Europe is most competitive. In footwear, this is in brand building, design, research and development, production technology, logistics, retail and marketing, as well as in the manufacturing of top-fashion and high-end footwear.

Removal of the EU’s anti-dumping duties will provide relief for the majority of footwear stakeholders including:

All footwear manufacturers have been hit by the global supply shortage in leather. Together with the price-increases in synthetic and other materials it has resulted in major cost increases for raw-materials. Labour costs have increased significantly in Asia over the last years likewise the transport costs. Imports are therefore becoming more expensive. Removal of the anti-dumping duties will help offset some of these challenging cost increases.

Providing the right trade and regulatory environment to nurture all parts of the supply chain, in which Europe is currently competitive, is essential to maintaining economic growth and securing and creating jobs in Europe in this sector. The removal of regressive tariffs is definitely a step in the right direction.

In this understanding we welcome the European Commission’s new top priority on tackling barriers to trade as EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht pointed out with the publishing of the first EU report on trade barriers in March. We look for improved market access so that European companies can build or consolidate positioning in fast-growing export markets, such as China, Russia and Brazil and other emerging economies.

The European Footwear Alliance exists out of the European Branded Footwear Coalition, the European Outdoor Group, and the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry.