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Director General Foreign Trade Association
Economic growth is mainly happening outside Europe.
Jan Eggert discusses the importance of free trade in European trade industry and the current trade practices therein with Mary Christine Joy.
The Foreign Trade Association is Europe's premier association for trade policy and global supply chains and represents over 1,400 retailers, importers, brand companies and national associations.
Jan Eggert leads the Association's activities with regard to international trade as well as the activities related to BSCI and BEPI, the two operational initiatives created by the FTA to support companies improving respectively working conditions as well as environmental conditions in the international supply chain.
Europe is one of the biggest markets for textile and apparel. How important do you think are the European trade policies to the global textile and apparel industry?
The EU is the largest trading block in the world and a massive net importer of garments and textile products. The direction in which EU trade policy is shaped is therefore crucial for the prosperity of the textile and apparel industry, not only in Europe but globally. In a world of complex and globalised supply chains, European retailers are dependent on a favorable political and legal environment which promotes free trade and open borders. With regard to the importance of the textile and apparel industry, it is of outmost importance that the EU develops the right policies addressing the sector's needs and easing trade and customs procedures, especially with sourcing countries whose economies strongly rely on textile manufacturing.
What are the demands of the European retailers in terms of trade policies? Can you be as precise as possible in this matter?
Economic growth is mainly happening outside Europe. It is a reality that the EU must face and adapt to, by increasing trade with the world and avoiding protectionism. European retailers call upon EU policymakers to commit to a strong trade agenda with ambitious and clear goals that facilitate international commerce and open markets.
What are the objectives that FTA thinks should EU prioritize in order to develop the EU trade scenario fully?
2014 is a year of political change in the EU, with European Parliament elections which took place in May and the nomination of a new Commission in October. In this context, the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) issued the strategy document 'Road Map for EU Trade Policy: 2014-2019',which reflects the view of FTA's 1,400 members (European retailers, importers and brand manufacturers). Firstly, the EU trade policy should serve to strengthen commercial relations with the world. As a second priority, the EU should pursue negotiations for ambitious free trade agreements notably with emerging countries such as Vietnam and India but also at the level of the World Trade Organization. Thirdly, the EU trade rule book needs to be modernised and adapted to the rapidly changing business realities. Legislation should facilitate business, not hamper trade. Last but not least, we welcome the increasing acceptance of the concept of sustainable trade in Europe and developing countries.
EU Trade policies should not serve protectionist intentions. Do you agree? Please elaborate.
Absolutely. As mentioned above, trade is about facilitating commercial exchange across borders. Protectionist measures at EU borders will automatically trigger defensive measures and close export and investment markets. This would harm the competitiveness of European companies, increase business costs and final prices for consumers.
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