The EU Antidumping Committee has rejected the Commission proposal to extend the duties for another 15 months, by 15 votes against 10. GRTU welcomes the decision by the EU-27. After 15 years of protectionism in the footwear sector, the current antidumping duties on imports from China and Vietnam will hopefully end in January 2010. As shoes are essential items, this is a good day for all Europeans. Now we expect that today's ‘no' will be confirmed also at ministerial level.
The reasons to terminate the measures were compelling: due to higher import prices from China and Vietnam, the import activity has shifted to other countries of origin. Production has not returned to Europe. There is no evidence that the measures have saved one single job.
GRTU had written to the Authorities to ensure that this time round Malta's stand would be against the further extension of the duties. Even though Malta had during 2006 voted in favour of these duties, against GRTU's advice, the Minister for Finance, the Economy and Investment assured the GRTU that this time Malta would have voted against this imposition.
Anti-dumping rules impose duties on imported products deemed to be below cost price, thus making imports more expensive and driving up prices in our stores. In the current crisis, citizens are right to expect the EU to terminate these long-standing measures which artificially ‘protect' the footwear industry. For this specific sector Malta is certainly an importing and not an exporting country, therefore, our retailers and consumers are made to pay extra hefty costs to protect the few foreign European producers. Maltese traders should not have been made to susidise the few footwear producers still operating in other EU countries. We are therefore very please the Maltese Government took our advise this time in favour not only of our enterprises importing these footwear products but also consumers.
Free trade benefits consumers and boosts the economy. Europe needs open markets at home to foster market access abroad. Today's decision has set the points right. If confirmed, the termination of the footwear duties will help Europe on its way out of the crisis. Consumers and competitive industries stand to win - hopefully a precedent for upcoming cases.