A major step has been taken today, during European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, with MEPs’ vote finally approving the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan. Once in force, this new agreement will create a trade zone of 600 million people, and cover a third of global GDP and about 40 percent of global trade. It will also eventually remove almost all customs duties worth roughly €1 billion annually on European products and services exported to Japan.

According to the European Commission, the EU-Japan EPA is “the ‘biggest bilateral trade partnership ever negotiated by the European Union”. The 2016 Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment of the agreement indicated that EU exports to Japan could rise by up to 34 %, and according to a more recent Commission estimate, European companies – among which the European sporting goods industry –would save up to 1 billion euros in customs duties per year as a result of the EU-Japan EPA. In addition to exploiting the untapped potential of bilateral trade, the agreement is also of strategic importance, conveying a strong message of the parties’ commitment to promoting a free and fair trading system based on rules, and to reject trade protectionism.

“Five years after the official launch of the negotiations, FESI is pleased that the European Parliament has given its consent to this trade agreement, which will significantly increase trade between the EU and Japan” declared Frank Dassler, FESI President. “FESI has been very active in making sure that footwear quotas and import duties on Ski Boots are continuously part of the negotiations and we are proud that we have succeeded”, he added.
Indeed, the ski boots industry currently faces a 27% import duty in Japan and 17% in Europe, which means that European Ski Boots Companies are paying almost 20 million euros in import duty every year. The new EPA will eventually remove almost all tariffs on goods, which constitutes “a real breath of fresh air for our sector, and will also be beneficial for all Japanese consumers purchasing European-made ski boots”, according to Rene Harrer from HEAD company and FESI’s ski committee chairman. Indeed, as Japan is one of the world’s top destinations for winter sports, the liberalization of imports would significantly contribute to encouraging Japanese people, the youth and the children to practice skiing by making ski boots more affordable for the consumers.

“Moreover, the deal also ensures a high level of environmental and labour protection, which are core values for our industry”, concluded Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General.