The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) has welcomed the European Parliament's decision to approve duty-free access to EU markets for the Philippines.

In its plenary vote this week, the European Parliament joined EU Member States in endorsing the European Commission's proposal to include the Philippines under the EU's Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

Prior to the vote, the Philippines already benefited from the standard GSP scheme, which gives exporters from developing countries access to EU markets by reducing or eliminating tariffs. The 'plus' status will mean the complete removal of tariffs on virtually all remaining export products falling under the scheme - some 6,274 in total. This, the FESI says, represents a "tremendous boon" for the Philippines economy.

The granting of GSP+ status is contingent on a country's ratification and successful implementation of core international conventions relating to human and labour rights, the environment and good governance.

Reacting to the EP plenary vote, Alberto Bichi, FESI secretary general, said: "The European Parliament has taken the right step today in extending GSP+ status to the Philippines. The decision will create thousands of jobs and help the Philippines continue down the path of sustainable growth and development while building on its international commitments. The enhanced trade relationship will also facilitate the European sporting goods industry's access to quality sourcing options, boosting our industry's competitiveness and reducing manufacturing costs to the benefit of European consumers".