China and Vietnam called on the European Union on Friday to lift anti-dumping duties on their shoe exports, rejecting the step as a violation of free trade.
"China's shoe products aren't dumped, and they aren't harming European industry," said a statement issued by Chong Quan, the spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry.
"The Chinese side asks the European side to treat Chinese industry fairly, conduct anew a reasonable analysis of this case, issue a judgment that conforms to WTO rules and protect the normal development of the Chinese-European shoe trade," Chong's statement said.
The European Union announced Thursday it will impose new duties on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes on April 7, starting at 4 percent and rising to 19.4 percent for Chinese shoes and 16.8 percent on Vietnamese footwear over six months.
In Hanoi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman denied that Vietnam's shoe makers were dumping their products and warned that the new duties could hurt foreign investors as well.
"The decision to impose anti-dumping duties on leather shoes imported from Vietnam to the EU market is unfair," said ministry spokesman Le Dung.
"This decision will negatively affect Vietnamese workers as well as EU consumers, the EU footwear retail industry and many EU footwear investors who are doing business in Vietnam," Le said.
Half of the 2.5 billion pairs of shoes sold in the EU last year came from China.
Chong, the Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman, complained that the duties "violate fair trade principles."
Also Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that Chinese shoemakers are trying to raise a 3 million yuan (US$375,000; euro300,000) warchest to lobby against the European tariffs.
The money will pay for European lawyers to "plead our case against the duty," said Wu Zhenchang, president of the Guangdong Chuangxin Shoe Manufacturing Co., quoted by Xinhua, reports the AP.
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