The European Union is largely expected to approve today a system of surveillance for imports from China, similar to the one that was launched for textile and apparel products earlier this week. The latter one will apply throughout 2005 to all the items that have been governed by the quotas expiring next Jan. 1, including windbrakers, shirts, pants, fleecewear, pullovers and underwear. The purpose of the surveillance mechanism is to detect possible peaks in the import rate that may trigger the safeguard clause contemplated by the World Trade Organization, and also to monitor import prices for possible anti-dumping action.

On another front, European shoe manufacturers are still hopeful of obtaining the mandatory labeling of the country of origin for all types of footwear imported into the EU, starting next June at the earliest. Representatives of the European shoe industry had a meeting, described as positive, with officials of the recently appointed European Commission in Brussels at the beginning of this week. Another one is planned for next February.

The former European Trade Commission, Pascal Lamy, who is now a candidate to become secretary general of the WTO, had already started the process of examining the pros and cons of such a regulation, which would be similar to those already in place in the USA and Japan, but several governments opposed it. The list of products covered by such a measure has been extended to include also leathergoods, textiles and clothing, eyewear, jewelry, ceramic tiles and furniture.

Meanwhile, the EU has proposed to remove China from the list of countries benefiting from its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for footwear, as it has become competitive in this category of products. If the measure is approved, the EU will also abolish duties on footwear imports from less developed countries.