The lack of any compulsory labeling of products imported from outside the European Union and the absence of any precise and effective defense of the “made in Italy” label continue to cause Italian shoemakers serious concern. While some minor results have been obtained, the European industry is only at the start of a long, hard struggle. Pressure from ANCI, the Italian shoemakers’ association, from other Italian industry associations and from the Italian government, have resulted in a draft proposal for a ruling in favor of compulsory labeling of the origin of products from outside the EU, which will be put to the Committee #133 of the European Commission within the next few weeks, although there is a lot of pressure to the contrary from some other European countries.

ANCI criticizes the complexity of the available trade instruments and the painfully slow pace at which progress is being made to defend the European shoe industry, and the absence of any ruling against the unfair competition of the Asian producers, particularly China. ANCI denounces the fact that it would seem impossible for the safeguard clauses to be used in a timely fashion to protect European producers during the period of liberalization of Chinese exports. The problem is that import tariffs can only be applied to products not subjected to quotas, but many sensitive footwear products such as shoes with leather uppers, are still protected by EU quotas until the end of 2004.

Meanwhile, ANCI is preparing a document concerning the products that are not protected by quotas, as the European industry is required to prove the extent of the damage suffered through imports. But the Italian organization also proposes a longer intermediary period during which China should be encouraged to adopt fiscal, customs, credit and social policies closer to those existing in Europe.