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August 31, 2006

Mandelson on Shoes

This complete tit really does anger me.

Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner, formally proposed a five-year shoe war yesterday aimed at curbing "unfair competition" from China and Vietnam.

He asked national governments to approve a package of import surcharges that would increase the price of hundreds of millions of pairs of leather shoes sold across the EU each year.

Right, so let’s make all shoes across the continent more expensive. (Import taxes do not just make the imports more expensive: they raise the price at which domestic manufacturers can sell as well: that’s actually their point.) What a wonderful way of making the 450 million people of the European Union wealthier.

It is believed that Mr Mandelson would not be upset if the package were struck down and the shoe wars were called off. In private, he is understood to have questioned the wisdom of the EU sending millions in aid to developing nations such as Vietnam, only to erect barriers to their exports.

Bollocks. This is spin. If he actually did believe this then he would have told the protectionists to bugger off in the first place.

August 31, 2006 in European Union | Permalink


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I sympathise with your position, Tim. The EU has a long and sad history of using anti-dumping measures as a cover for blatant protectionism despite serial objections by the UK.

Try googling to retrieve the 2004 PDF file on: "The Politicisation of EC Anti-dumping: Member States, Their Votes, and the European Commission" - the file's url will never fit here. Table 5 therein shows up the UK's historic opposition in EU Council meetings to most anti-dumping measures compared with other EU member state governments. This is one persuasive reason why we need to retain the DTI's present remit in British government for monitoring trade policy even though EU member states have surrendered national autonomy on trade issues to the Commission.

However, Mandelson cannot be a complete autocrat in this. He will be subject to pressures in the Cabinet of EU Commissioners which he can hardly dismiss entirely.

Posted by: Bob B | Aug 31, 2006 8:56:58 AM

Used the 'complete tit' link which took me to Mandy's site, but he wouldn't let me leave!

I feel absued.

Posted by: mirthios | Aug 31, 2006 9:17:52 AM

The protectionist mind-set is so firmly ingrained. This morning on Sky News the guest was complaining about how Tesco's move into Argos-type catalogue territory in both Britain and India would be in many ways a bad thing, even if it would bring cheaper prices, as it would hurt small business, and this would especially hurt India, whose economy he said depends on small business. No wonder India's economy has been so poor with attitudes like this.

Posted by: Scott Campbell at Blithering Bunny | Aug 31, 2006 9:40:59 AM

Tesco has been increasing its ascendancy over competitors in supermarket sales in both food and non-food items:

"Tesco has put further distance between itself and its competitors over the past three months, according to the industry's leading sales survey. Its share of UK supermarket sales rose to 30.6% in the 12 weeks to 29 January, up from 30.5% in the previous quarter, according to market research firm TNS. Tesco has had a successful year - its market share up from 29% a year ago."

"Tesco is set to become the UK's largest retailer of non-food goods by the end of the year, according to industry analysts Verdict Research."

It's hardly suprising that there's an active PR campaign intended to throw spanners and mud, doubtless mounted by some of those feeling the heat.

Btw I regularly shop at Tesco's nowadays so I'm not complaining.

Posted by: Bob B | Aug 31, 2006 10:40:43 AM

Do you suppose his rules will apply to "lifts" in shoes; you know, the sort used by people who want to appear taller. If so, might Mr Toni object?

Posted by: dearieme | Aug 31, 2006 1:48:03 PM