Timberland concerned over European duty

Operating profits of The Timberland Company may be dramatically reduced by economic decisions made recently half a world away, according to company officials.

The Stratham-based footwear and apparel company estimates the decision of the European Commission to impose provisional anti-dumping duties on leather shoes imported into European member states from China and Vietnam may reduce its 2006 operating profits by $10 million dollars.

Timberland products are manufactured in 35 countries worldwide.

“As a premium footwear provider, we do not believe that our footwear is being imported into Europe at below-market costs, and we believe that the imposition of percentage duties disproportionably impacts premium branded footwear companies like Timberland which have not caused injury to Europe-based footwear manufacturers,” said Jeffrey B. Swartz, Timberland’s president and CEO.

Imposed by European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in an effort to address commission findings of unfair trade practices by the footwear sector of China and Vietnam, the duties are expected to be phased in over a five-month period, beginning at about 4 percent on April 7, and growing to 16.8 percent for Vietnam and 19.4 percent for China.

Timberland officials said they are currently considering strategies in response to the impending duties including potential price increases on footwear products sold in Europe. – TRACIE STONE

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