Vito Artioli, chairman of the European shoe industry federation (CEC), reiterated at the World Footwear Congress in Rio de Janeiro that his body will continue to be vigilant on the import front, and that it will not hesitate to request a new anti-dumping investigation if there is any new evidence of dumping that may damage the European shoe industry.

However, the statistical data collected so far indicate that there has been no surge in the European Union's imports of leather shoes from either China or Vietnam, the two countries that have been hit by the EU's anti-dumping duties on these products in the last five years, since they were lifted last March 31.

In the four months after March, the EU's total imports of leather shoes from China actually declined by 4.5 percent in volume and by 4.6 percent in value, although their average price dropped by 0.1 percent after a sharp rise in recent times. During the same four-month period between April and July, imports of leather shoes from Vietnam fell by 28.2 percent in volume and by 27.2 percent in value, as their average price increased by 1.4 percent.

The relative slowdown may be explained by numerous factors, such as the fact that the latest shipments of spring and summer merchandise from the two countries reflected orders passed at a time when there was still no certainty that the anti-dumping duties would be phased out. Furthermore, European importers have been ordering less because of the uncertain economic situation in their own countries and because the ongoing inflation and labor shortages in China and Vietnam have led them to diversify their sourcing.

For the first seven months of 2011, the combined imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam into the EU were down by 14.6 percent in volume and by 8.7 percent in value, and their average import price was up by 6.9 percent. Comparatively, the EU's total imports of leather shoes from all sources declined in the same period by only 6.5 percent in volume and rose by 0.5 percent in value, with average import prices rising by 7.5 percent.

Including other types of shoes, the 27 member countries of the EU imported 1.6 million pairs in the first seven months, up by 3.5 percent, and their total value rose by 5.2 percent to €8.2 billion, with the average price increasing by 1.7 percent to €5.11 per pair.

The EU's trade balance improved slightly, while remaining largely negative. Total shoe exports increased by 15.1 percent in volume to 117.8 million pairs, and their average price per pair went up by 6.1 percent to €29.18, leading to an overall increase in their value to €3.4 billion.