Retailers lobby Mandelson


A group of major British retailers are lobbying European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson over the imposition of EU import tariffs and the effect they could have on retail consumers.

Chief executives from firms including Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer are meeting Mr Mandelson in an effort to prevent a repeat of last summer's 'bra wars' backlog of Chinese imports.

Fears that Britain's struggling retail sector could be adversely disrupted by the sudden imposition of protectionist quotas against Chinese produce are driving the retailers to meet with Mr Mandelson, who in April imposed a duty on imports of leather shoes from China and Vietnam.

Now that the EU is considering imposing further tariffs on up to seven new product categories British companies have decided to act.

Speaking on the Today programme, Kevin Hawkins of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that while he understands the need to prevent the dumping of goods on European markets, he is opposed to the way in which countries are using anti-dumping measures simply to protect their own interests.

"We are as much against dumping as anybody else," he stressed. "What we do have, and many other people have, is quite severe reservations about the process that is being used."

"In other words what we don't want to see is further attempts to use the quite legitimate anti-dumping procedures simply in order to trump up spurious cases against Chinese imports in order to protect declining and uncompetitive manufacturing in southern Europe. That is what we want to stop."

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