CEC (Confédération Européenne de l’Industrie de la Chaussure) defends the leather shoes segment in the diplomatic battle that is re-writing international regulations regarding commerce between the European Union and Mercosur. Additionally, negotiations with Japan have also been opened, while COKA, the National Footwear and Leather Association of the Czech Republic, is officially a new member. On the negotiation table, there are talks to mutually reduce duties on imports. Brazil, which leads the Mercosur side, suggested to the EU a 35% reduction on the duty currently in place for shoes, but the suggestion only regarded footwear made with rubber. The proposal was strongly opposed by CEC and its president, Cleto Sagripanti, who wants leather shoes to be included in the agreement, safeguarding the prevalently Italian production. The remaining parties of the Confédération shared the idea. “The request that I sent to the European minister of Industry and Commerce recommended going back to the negotiation table”, explains Cleto Sagripanti to us. An action that was supported by Annarita Pilotti and the association she leads, Assocalzaturifici. Mrs. Pilotti, in fact, sent a note to Carlo Calenda, Italian Minister for Economic Development. Another hot topic for CEC: Japan. “I had a good feeling about Japan, because I noticed some openings during the negotiations and indicators that improve the chance that duties will be reduced”, told us Sagripanti, emphasizing how rigid Tokyo’s duties’ system is, and how rarely it can be moved. Meanwhile, after Hungary was accepted, the Czech Republic also became a member of CEC, joining Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. With this list, CEC now represents around 90% of all European footwear production.