The European Union announced Thursday that it will impose anti-dumping tariffs on shoes imported from China and Vietnam, a move Cambodian officials and experts said Friday could provide relief to Cambodia’s flagging shoe industry.
The duties to be imposed on all leather shoes from the two countries beginning April 7 have been adopted due to “clear evidence of disguised subsidies and unfair state intervention,” an EU trade commission statement said.
Over a five month period, import tariffs will rise to 16.8 percent on Vietnamese shoes and 19.4 percent on Chinese shoes, resulting in an average increase of about $2 on the import wholesale price of the shoes.
“We have a new opportunity to compete in the EU market on shoes,” Cambodian Ministry of Commerce Undersecretary of State Mao Thura said Friday.
He said that only seven of Cambodia’s 13 shoe factories, which employ 14,500 workers, currently export to the EU.
Last year, shoe exports to Europe were down to $17 million from a high of $24 million in 2004. The factories shipped 6.3 million pairs of shoes last year, down from 8.2 million in 2004 and 7.8 million in 2003.
“We don’t know the reason, but exports to Japan have increased,” he said.
Economist Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said that competition with China has been hurting Cambodia’s shoe business.
He said studies indicate Cambodian shoe factory workers have a higher productivity than garment workers and good labor relations.
“This is the right time for shoe makers to expand their factories,” he said.
Khun Ny, a supervisor at Phnom Penh’s Magnate Footwear factory said that his company has zero orders from Europe but ships 150,000 pairs of shoes to Japan each month.
“I hope there will be some orders from the EU if there are less Chinese goods in the EU market,” he said.