The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) applauds today’s European Parliament plenary vote in favor of the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam (EVFTA), paving the way for dynamic growth in trade relations between both parties. This FTA represents the most crucial agreement ever been negotiated by the EU with a developing country and a turning point for the expansion of the sporting goods industry in the region. With around 4000 enterprises and more than 4.5 million employees, the textile and garment sector is one of the most important industries in Vietnam.

The EVFTA will bring an annual rise of 2.18% to 3.25% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023, sharply increasing both EU and Vietnam exports”, explained Neil Narriman, FESI President. “The ratification of this FTA with Vietnam represents one of the biggest successes ever achieved by our industry, with the full liberalisation of athletic and sports footwear either at entry into force or in the next three years. I am extremely proud of the work we have done within FESI over the last decade, particularly with our Trade Committee, to make this ratification a reality”, he added.

Vietnam is one of the EU’s largest trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the EVFTA represents the most ambitious FTA that the EU has ever concluded with an emerging economy, virtually abolishing all tariffs between the EU and Vietnam. 71% of the tariffs on Vietnamese exports to the EU will immediately disappear upon entry into force, while the rest will be gradually removed over a maximum of seven years. Securing an open, predictable and transparent trading environment through the FTA, it will be a turning point for the textile and footwear industry, which counts more than 4000 companies in the region. The FTA will also generate greater opportunities for Vietnamese society through more jobs and better services.

Footwear and apparel are respectively the second and third EU imported category of goods from Vietnam. Thanks to the EVFTA, not only will the sporting goods industry be able to grow substantially but the positive outcome will also be reflected across Vietnam’s entire population. In fact, the FTA includes legally binding rules on climate, labour and human rights that will help raise life-quality standards in the country”, commented Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary-General. “This would never have been possible without the continued and unrelenting efforts of our Vietnamese colleagues to push their government to commit to a binding roadmap on this matter. I would like to express my special thanks to them for our common success today”, he added.

After many years of considerable efforts to push for the ratification of this agreement, FESI also acknowledges the great work done by the European Commission and MEPs responsible for this file. Together, the industry and the European Institutions strived hard to allow the conclusion of the EVFTA and to guarantee the interests of both citizens and businesses were taken into account. Now that the European Parliament gave its final consent, the FTA will come into force one month after the EU and Vietnam have reciprocally notified each other that legal procedures have been completed, including approval by the Vietnamese national assembly. The next step will be monitoring the positive effects of the FTA on our industry, as well as maintaining constant communication with EU and Vietnamese representatives to ensure a smooth development of the trade relations between the two parties.