The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) strongly welcomes today’s vote of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA), giving its green light for the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam (EVFTA). After years of intensive work that have led to strong progress and commitments from the Vietnamese government, in particular on labour rights and sustainable development issues, the INTA Committee is sending a strong positive signal to the upcoming plenary in February. FESI now calls on all Members of the European Parliament to follow the lead of the INTA Committee and support the ratification of the agreement.

The FTA will eliminate over 99% of all tariffs, and partly remove the rest through limited zero-duty quotas. Its ratification will not only advance the expansion of the sporting goods sector but will also create new job opportunities and push for the improvement of labour rights in Vietnam”, explained Neil Narriman, FESI President. “After almost eight years of negotiations and discussions, FESI calls on all European deputies to take the final step towards the ratification of such a crucial agreement”, he added.

With the European Parliament’s consent, the trade agreement can be officially concluded by the Council and enter into force, thus creating more opportunities for both the sporting goods industry and the Vietnamese citizens. Over 4.5 million people are currently employed by the garment and textile sector in Vietnam and the economic growth generated by this FTA would not only produce new jobs but also foster the positive reform process carried out by the Vietnamese government since the 1980s.

We acknowledge the signs of progress made by Vietnam in terms of labour rights, such as the greater alignment of factory practices with international labour standards regarding freedom of association and more efforts in closing the gender gap in the workplace. Ratifying the EVFTA is the right way to encourage Vietnam to follow the path of rules-based trade liberalisation and economic integration, for the benefit of businesses, workers, and consumers”, commented Jérôme Pero, FESI Secretary-General.

FESI would also like to stress the great work done by the INTA MEPs, who grasped the mutual benefits of the EVFTA for both Europe and Vietnam. Now, it is crucial that all the other MEPs follow the example of their INTA colleagues during the European Parliament’s plenary session in February, to ensure the swift ratification the EVFTA.