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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

"Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" – the words are St Augustine’s, but they could just as well have been uttered by Peter Mandelson.

The EU’s trade commissioner has pledged to reform Brussels’ harmful
anti-dumping rules – which penalise imports that are deemed to be " too
cheap" – to take account of the fact that many of these imports are in
fact produced by European companies with factories abroad. There is also the small matter that European consumers actually benefit from
low-price imports, as anyone who has bought cheap Chinese shoes can

A review is great news, then – but don’t rejoice too fast. Our enlightened representatives in
Brussels have today voted to slap duties of 16.5% on shoes made in China and 10%
on footwear from Vietnam. The extra duties will last for two years – less than the five years that
Mandelson was proposing, but more than free-traders such as Britain,
which opposed the anti-dumping duties altogether, wanted.

Mandelson would doubtless argue that EU politics required him to propose these harmful duties. Perhaps. But
slapping an unfair tax on cheap Chinese and Vietnamese shoes is an odd way to launch a
liberalising reform of Europe’s nonsensical anti-dumping rules.

Posted 04 Oct 2006 in Blog

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