The Chinese government announced yesterday its decision to request consultations with the World Trade Organization to challenge the process by which the European Union decided last Dec. 22 to extend its anti-dumping measures on leather shoes from China and Vietnam for 15 more months. It is the second time that China is approaching the WTO to settle an anti-dumping dispute.

Taking note of this request, the European Footwear Alliance, which represents shoe importers, argued that the extension of the duties opened the door to retaliatory measures on EU exports to China. Last year, when the EU imposed anti-dumping on imports of iron and steel fasteners from China, the latter's government responded with an appeal to the WTO and, last Dec. 23, announced similar anti-dumping measures on carbon-steel fasteners from the EU.

The Chinese government has been criticized for granting subsidies to the shoe sector that contrast with international rules on fair competition. Last December, the Chinese government decided to reduce certain economic incentives it had been using to help exporters during the financial crisis. The incentives, which include cash awards, preferential loans, and subsidies for research and development, were condemned by the U.S. at the WTO for being against international rules and hurting American companies' chances of exporting.