WTO PROVIDES FOR INSTRUMENTS TO DEFEND TRADE




Sir,

Further to Prof. Redwood’s letter (October 10) and other recent interventions - rather emotional at times - on the subject of anti-dumping duties on leather footwear from China and Vietnam,it may be helpful to remind your readers that WTO explicitely provides for trade defence instruments to sanction uncompetitive behaviour that distorts markets and has damaging effects for consumers.
Anti-dumping duties are namely applied temporarily to defend one’s market from imports of under-priced goods aimed at causing injury to domestic producers, thereby gaining greater market share. This is what happened in the case of leather footwear which is debated today: nothing more, nothing less. All WTO members are familiar with, fully accept and make abundant use of these instruments.
The European Union, with 24 anti-dumping and two anti-subsidies cases opened in 2005, has consistently proved to be among the most moderate users of trade defence tools within WTO (only 11,5% of cases worldwide). Contrary to the argument recurrently used in your columns,anti-dumping procedures are not a “Club-Med” feature in EU affairs: all European countries with a strong industrial background regularly appeal for anti-dumping measures. Anti-dumping measures have been invoked and decided, in a spirit of solidarity, for goods as different as salmon, light bulbs, DVDs and bicycles. There is no geographic divide within the EU, of the sort frequently evoked in the current debate: with liberal, consumer-friendly northern members and the south protectionist and prone to perverse horse-trading.
On this very subject, Europe, whatever the latitude, is inclined to speak with one voice, albeit not on the same products.


* Minister for International Trade and European Affairs, Italy