Mandelson Wears Down on Shoes

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Protectionism in trade has been a regular feature of posts recently (see here and here), and the EU-China shoe show-down (as with the textiles dispute before it) has been a good example of the problem.

The arguments have been raging between China and the EU for some time – but it is important to note that, just as there are conservative and liberal views on trade in China, there are also arguments within the EU – between the free trade (mainly northern) and protectionist (mainly southern) camps.

These things are never as simple as they seem at first sight, especially when the EU Trade Commissioner abdicates responsibility (or admits to having no power in the first place)! The FT reports:

    “Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner, has concluded he can do no more to settle the dispute and will stand aside while national capitals thrash out their differences…He will propose tomorrow that the European Commission stick to a plan to impose anti-dumping duties on leather shoes from the two countries, even though it has already been opposed by a majority of member states…Unless a majority of member states back Mr Mandelson’s proposals by October 6, preliminary anti-dumping duties introduced in April will end and cheaper shoes will flow into the European Union.

It is a sorry state of affairs, and strong political leadership is needed if Europe’s sunset industries are to be shown that innovation – and not isolation – is the way to succeed in the future.

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