Interview with Jan Eggert

Face2Face
Jan Eggert
Jan Eggert
Director General
Foreign Trade Association
Foreign Trade Association

How can an investment trade agreement between EU and China help the EU trade sector at present and in the future?

China, EU's second largest economic partner, plays a crucial role in retailers' sourcing activities and the country has become increasingly important as a sales market. Since the beginning of 2014, the EU and China are engaged in negotiations for an investment agreement. Such an agreement, once concluded, would mutually grant businesses a high level of investor protection and enhanced market access, boosting bilateral commerce. A successful agreement, which FTA fully supports, would as well remove unjustified barriers and guarantee an improved regime of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in China. In the long term, a successful investment agreement could pave the way to a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU and China.

With which countries is free trade desirable for the betterment of the EU textile and apparel trade?

China should remain a priority on the agenda, but strong emphasis should also be put in finalising trade agreements with emerging markets such as Vietnam, India and Thailand. The EU should also seek to progress in inter-regional talks with ASEAN and the US. Beyond the structure of trade deals, the EU is promoting free trade in the framework of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Major sourcing countries, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Cambodia, benefit from this free-duty scheme.

How can sustainable trade be practiced in the retail sector, especially textile and apparel?

Through initiatives such as the Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI) and the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), with over 1,400 participants, European retailers have shown how to successfully promote sustainable trade.

I would like to quote one of your statements in this regards - "EU is at crossroads and it is our responsibility to safeguard what has made Europe strong: a community of open borders and free trade with the world". What is it that you mean by EU is at cross roads?

At a time when Europe's economic development is increasingly gaining from the exchange of goods and services with the world, an important number of voices is still questioning the open character of the EU trade policy and even calling for more restrictions. Such an irresponsible attitude is in total contradiction to today's business reality of global value chains. International trade has proven to be an important growth-driver and a powerful instrument to enhance the EU's economic recovery and businesses' competitiveness. In other words, a liberal trade framework needs to be in place, and we need to strive for maintaining it.
Published on: 08/09/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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