Italian and Spanish footwear manufacturers are gearing up to support the continuance of high tariffs on cheap Chinese shoes, which were put into place to help the European manufacturers protect against an influx of imported goods. Specifically, they were a response to a surge in the import of Chinese footwear and leather goods, which had a negative effect on the sale of Italian, French, Polish and Spanish footwear. Many retailers and most EU member states, though, oppose the measures (put into place in 1996), which comprise a 16.5% duty on Chinese shoes and a 10% tariff on Vietnamese.
The tariffs were extended in October of last year by Lord Mandelson, the European Trade Commissioner at the time; the extension runs through this October, and further extension depends on the state of the market. On October 22, the Commission must decide whether or not to maintain the tariffs. If the Commission decides not to maintain them, the tariffs will be automatically lifted in January. Maintaining the tariffs will have a negative impact on trade relations between Asia and Europe, something that could affect the World Trade Organization as it attempts to garner support for the Doha Round of trade negotiations.