Sat, Oct 28, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Shoemakers bring complaint against imports from China

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following the lead of local towel manufacturers, Taiwanese shoemakers urged the government to impose anti-dumping duties on footwear imported from China under the WTO complaints mechanism.

The complaint application, which is processed by the Taiwanese government, claims the dumping margin -- the amount by which the normal value exceeds the export price of the subject merchandise -- of six categories of Chinese footwear sold in Taiwan is 283.75 percent.

The suspected dumping items are dress shoes, high-heel shoes, boots, children's shoes, sandals and casual shoes.

The application was filed jointly by two local shoemaking associations and the Tainan Leather Commercial Association (台南皮革製品商業同業公會) early this month.

"The shoemaking industry used to be a major Taiwanese exporter, but now can hardly survive after the massive influx of Chinese footwear," Huang Shao-chiu (黃紹裘), a representative of the association, said at the case's first hearing yesterday.

Taiwan lifted the ban on Chinese shoe imports on Feb. 15, 2002. According to statistics compiled by the Customs Administration and surveys conducted by the industry associations among local shoe manufacturers, the number of shoe manufacturing companies dropped from 1,500 in 2003 to 1,200 at the end of last year.

Taiwan currently imposes an import duty on the target items of 7.5 percent, but the Chinese authorities levy 22.5 percent on the same products from Taiwan, Huang said.

The overall production of local shoemakers fell from 3.9 million pairs in 2003 to an estimated 3.15 million pairs this year, the data showed.

Chinese shoe imports, however, surged from 15.97 million pairs in 2003, to about 24.42 million pairs by the end of last year, or about 80 percent of all shoe imports, the associations said.

The market share of made-in-Taiwan shoes slid from 53.76 percent in 2003 to 43.35 percent this year, while Chinese imports rose from 38.69 percent to 52.67 percent in the same period, the statistics showed.

The associations also accused importers of Chinese footwear of selling their products at below cost to expand market share.

According to the associations, the average price of imported Chinese shoes is estimated to be NT$148.42 (US$4.46) per pair this year, far lower than the average retail price of NT$629.19 per pair for local shoes.

But Jimmy Lu (呂金品), associate manager of Arnor International Group (伯諾關係企業), which owns four out of the five shoe import companies involved in the case, said the figures provided by the associations are questionable, and said the companies' import and sales prices are much higher.

The 300 local shoemaking companies that have closed may have moved to China to achieve higher margins, not because they are losing money here, Lu said.

The EU decided early this month to continue anti-dumping duties of 16 percent on shoes from China for a two years.

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