Lebanon Businessnews News

Shoemakers oppose scrapping fee on imports
Factories call for protecting local producers from cheap imports and smuggling
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The shoe making industry is struggling to survive in a market flooded with cheap imports, owners of local shoe factories said, protesting a proposal by the Minister of Finance, Mohamad Safadi, to scrap fees levied on imported shoes.

A customs fee of around five percent is charged on shoe imports. Ali Khatib, general manager of Red Shoe, said that imports from China are a primary competitor to local made shoes, but that recent imports from Turkey have become a bigger challenge. “Imports from Turkey are competitively prices and are of an acceptable quality,” said Khatib. He said that customs fees on imports from EU countries have been falling regularly, going down from 15 to five percent.

The shoe industry is being challenged by cheaper imports in light of a rise in production costs and a depressed demand: “Our sales have further dipped this year. We usually rely on tourists, mainly in the summer.” The number of tourists dropped by more than 24 percent last year compared to 2010.

While it is hard to estimate how many shoe factories are still operational, Khatib said that many factories, mainly small workshops, were forced to close.

The tax burden and an absence of incentives have also weighed the industry down. Factory owners suggested scrapping custom fees on imports of materials used in making shoes to support the local industry. They also called for tighter control on imports to curb smuggling.

Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Jun 27, 2012
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