The Trade Protection Department of Brazil initiated an anti-dumping investigation against China last Dec. 29 for a variety of footwear products, responding to a complaint filed just a couple of months earlier by Abicalçados, the country’s shoe industry association. A similar anti-dumping suit against Vietnam was dropped after indications that shoe imports from that country were not damaging Brazilian producers and that it would have been too difficult for technical reasons to prove dumping from that country.

Instead, there is evidence that some shoes are being imported into Brazil from China with dumping margins as high as 435 percent, according to Abicalçados, which has proposed using data from Italy as the reference country to calculate dumping by Chinese manufacturers. In its previous investigation into the dumping of leather shoes into the European Union, the European Commission used Brazil as the reference country, in view of the fact that China does not have a market economy.

The Brazilian complaint applies to leather shoes as well as some synthetic and canvas shoes, plus rubber shoes and footwear with rubber and leather composite soles, but it excludes sports shoes and heavy shoes that can be used under snow conditions. Imports of these products into Brazil grew by 41 percent in volume to 37 million pairs in the first 11 months of 2008, with an increase in their value of 47 percent.

Milton Cardoso, chairman of Abicalçados, asked for an urgent application of anti-dumping duties by the Brazilian government in meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio da Silva, also known as Lula, who was the guest of honor at the opening of the Couromoda shoe and leather fair in São Paulo last Monday.

There are indications that the governments of Colombia and Venezuela may adopt similar protection measures against Chinese shoe imports, although their footwear trade associations are not as powerful as the Brazilian one. The Argentinian government, which has had import quotas on footwear for a while, may also join in the complaint, although it seems difficult to obtain the required information from the companies. While Chile already has a bilateral trade agreement with China, Mexico has high barriers against imports from China and other countries (more in Shoe Intelligence).