The trade group representing the foreign trade interests of European retailers, importers and brand companies is urging the European Parliament to open European markets to Burmese products "without delay".

The call comes after the European Commission in September took a step towards reinstating trade preferences for Burma/Myanmar, in a move that would give products such as clothing duty- and quota-free access to the European market for the first time since 1997.

The plan is to bring the country back under the so-called 'Everything But Arms' trade regime, which is part of the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It applies to Burma because it is classified as a Least Developed Country (LDC) by the United Nations.

However, the decision to grant GSP to Myanmar is still pending approval by the European Parliament.

"Trade is crucial to open the country to the world and ensure the efforts made towards an improved political and labour environment will have long lasting effects," said FTA director general Jan Eggert.