Following today’s vote on Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis’ position as the new Commissioner responsible for external trade, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) would like to reiterate its ambitions for the future EU Trade Policy.

In these unprecedent times, when citizens and businesses are struggling with not only a public health but also an economic crisis, there is more than ever a need for a strong, clear and flexible EU Trade Policy that will support Europe during its long journey towards economic recovery”, declared Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary General. “The sporting goods industry is currently under serious stress due to the supply chain disruptions stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This crisis has demonstrated the need to further diversify supply chains that are already extremely complex. This effort can only be successful provided that the EU and its trading partners adopt clear, simple, and flexible trade rules.” he added.

Ensuring stability, predictability and a rules-based environment for free and open trade and investment is crucial to build a strong EU Trade Policy responding to current new global challenges and taking into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, FESI calls on the European Institutions to:

  • Reaffirm the GSP system as a major tool for diversifying supply chains and promoting investment into developing countries
  • Work towards FTAs diversification and ratification of new trade agreements
  • Continue engaging with EU trade partners within the context of the WTO
  • Take SMEs’ specificity into account through special incentives and capacity building
  • Adopt simpler, clearer and flexible Rules of Origin

For the European Commission’s Trade Policy Review, FESI has set out a number of recommendations to further develop multilateral trade deals and diversify supply chains. FESI supports the idea of Open Strategic Autonomy, emphasizes the role of global value chains in daily business, and advocates for simpler trade regulations and the elimination of administrative barriers to trade. This is even more crucial for SMEs (70-75% of FESI’s membership), which were the hardest by the pandemic. FESI also names digitalization and sustainability as essential factors to economic recovery.

Sustainable development is one of the strong commitments of Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, which FESI largely supports. Free and fair trade ultimately drives sustainable development and poverty eradication in partner countries. Sporting goods companies are actively engaging with their suppliers’ factories, both directly and in cooperation with independent organisations and international programs (e.g. ILO, World Bank) to consistently upgrade the working environment of their textile workers in developing countries.