Calling for zero tariffs globally

The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry has called for zero trade barriers for sporting goods such as footwear, apparel and equipment, reporting that barriers and high duties block access to sport and physical activity with consequences for health and economics in the wider society.

Speakers at a forum included WFSGI Secretary General Robbert de Kock, General counsel adidas Group Frank Dasslerand chief executive of Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association USA, Tom Cove.

The WFSGI meeting heard that  globally, we are faced with increasing costs for our health systems and a general decline in physical health.

Policies that open markets and facilitate the world-wide movement of sporting goods can make a difference by encouraging physical activity.

The story of product is often far more complex than the label might lead one to believe, the meeting heard.

As an example, most of the sporting shoes manufactured in China are made from mostly non-Chinese materials, such as Australian “rawhide”  and Indonesian synthetics, for a US or EU-based company doing the R&D, designing, marketing and sales in different countries all over the world.

The true “made in the world” origin of this ostensibly “Chinese” shoe, however, remains to be recognised by most of the world’s trade experts.

Nine major countries have protectionist measures for sporting goods footwear in place, and China appears to be the main target. Sporting goods apparel and equipment are subject to trade-restrictive measures across the world.

“Overall, the sporting goods industry is faced with the highest tariffs and duties compared to other industries but so far we have not been able to develop enough lobbying capacity as the other industries to fight these measures,” the meeting heard.

There is a call within the global sporting goods industry for the universal elimination of tariffs on sporting goods products.

Zero for zero ( easy none tariff access) may not come easy, but given its position at the forefront of globalisation, sporting footwear, apparel and equipment which are very much “made in the world” , we cannot settle for a lesser solution, the meeting heard.

The sporting goods industry urges the governments around the world to open their markets by allowing easy none tariff access for sporting goods products, including footwear, apparel and equipment.

• The Australian Sporting Goods Association has joined WFSGI in calling for the reduction of outdated protectionist tariffs and duties.

The reduction in tariffs and duties in Australia was proposed by the ASGA to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the retail sector, and ASGA backed up its call at the public hearing earlier this month.

ASGA executive director Brad Kitschke says, “Tariff reductions on textile, clothing and footwear are planned for 2015 but we believe that there is no reason why those reductions should not occur sooner.

“Access to sporting goods and equipment is essential to increasing participation in sport and encouraging the preventative health benefits from a more active lifestyle,” he says.

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