Under new customs regulations that became effective in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan last February, children's shoes and clothing sold in those countries must use natural materials in the parts that are in contact with the child's skin. These parts cannot be made with artificial or synthetic materials. The new regulations, which were issued last summer, have led Ecco and other companies that are using breathable membranes in their shoes to stop marketing smaller sizes or to adapt them to the new guidelines.

A recent press article quoted Ecco as indicating that the Danish company has stopped selling Gore-Tex shoes in those countries, but company officials said that Ecco has reacted by developing an entirely new collection for autumn/winter 2013/14 for those markets that use leather or lambskin in the lining attached to the Gore-Tex membrane.

A Finnish company that sells a lot of Gore-Tex shoes in Russia, Pomarfin, said that it is going to deliver shoes with a natural fur lining for the next season, with Gore-Tex laminated on the inner side. Pomarfin, which has manufacturing facilities in Finland and Estonia, recently got a special award as a Gore-Tex user.

The new regulations were issued by the customs union around Russia in July 2012, just as Russia was about to become a full member of the World Trade Organization. Industry officials see them as a technical trade barrier. The European Commission accused the Russian government of increasing protectionism a few days ago, mentioning regulations on cars, textiles, alcoholic drinks, wood and other products. The issue will be debated at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels tomorrow, ahead of a visit by EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht to Moscow.

Noting that no other country has enforced such rules, a spokesman for W.L. Gore & Associates said that his company his convinced that its Gore-Tex membranes provide maximum consumer safety. Gore is a Bluesign system partner and its membranes have been certified under the Oekotex 100 standard.