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A scheme of generalised tariff preferences 2009-2011

The European Union’s scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) offers developing countries a reduction in customs duties for some of their products entering the European market. The aim of this policy is to help beneficiary countries to better participate in global trade and thus to contribute to their economic development, respecting human rights and the principles of sustainable development.

ACT

Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 of 22 July 2008 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2011 and amending Regulations (EC) No 552/97, (EC) No 1933/2006 and Commission Regulations (EC) No 1100/2006 and (EC) No 964/2007.

SUMMARY

The scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) consists of a general arrangement granted to all beneficiary countries and two special arrangements: a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance, and a special arrangement for the least-developed countries (LDCs).

Countries benefitting from different arrangements and for those whose tariff preferences have been removed are listed in Annex I of the Regulation. Products included in these three arrangements are listed in Annex II.

General arrangement

Under the framework of the general arrangement, the Common Customs Tariff duties on products listed in Annex II as non-sensitive products shall be suspended entirely, except for agricultural components. For products considered to be sensitive, Common Customs Tariff ad valorem duties (calculated proportionally on the value of the product) shall be reduced by 3.5 percentage points. For textile products and materials, this reduction shall be 20 %. Furthermore, the Regulation provides specific provisions for sensitive products covered by Common Customs Tariff specific duties.

Special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+)

The special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance may be granted to a country which:

  • has ratified and implemented all the conventions listed in Annex III of the Regulation (the UN/ILO conventions on human and labour rights, and the conventions related to the environment and the principles of good governance);
  • undertakes to continue to apply these conventions and accepts that their implementation will be regularly monitored;
  • is considered to be a vulnerable country as defined in the Regulation.

Under the framework of the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance, the Common Customs Tariff ad valorem duties are removed for all the products listed in Annex II. The specific duties are also removed, with the exception of those which include the ad valorem duties.

Countries who wish to benefit from this special arrangement should submit an application to the Commission and provide information concerning the ratification of the conventions referred to in

Annex III. The list of beneficiary countries shall be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Where a country is not granted the special arrangement, the Commission shall give the reasons for its decision.

Special arrangement for the least-developed countries (LDCs)

The special arrangement for the least-developed countries shall be granted to countries included on the list of LDCs produced by the United Nations.

The Common Customs Tariff duties shall be suspended totally for all products coming from these countries, with the exception of arms and munitions (EBA arrangement: "Everything but Arms"). A reduction of 80 % in duties is granted to husked rice (until the date of their total suspension planned for 1 September 2009) and white sugar (until the date of their total suspension planned for 1 October 2009). Until Common Customs Tariff duties are entirely suspended, these products shall benefit from a global tariff quota at zero duty for every marketing year.

Temporary withdrawal

The preferential arrangements may be withdrawn temporarily in cases of:

  • serious and systematic violation of the UN/ILO conventions on human and labour rights listed in Part A of Annex III;
  • export of goods made by prison labour;
  • serious shortcomings in customs controls on the export and transit of drugs and failure to comply with international conventions on money-laundering;
  • serious and systematic unfair trading practices;
  • serious and systematic violation of rules on fishing and fishery resources;
  • fraud, irregularities or failure to comply with rules concerning the origin of products.

The withdrawal will be voted on by the Council and decided by a qualified majority. The decision will come into force six months afterwards.

Safeguard clause

The safeguard clause provides an option to reintroduce Common Customs Tariff duties for a product whose import causes or is likely to cause serious difficulties for EU producers of like or directly competing products.

Context

In 1968, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recommended the introduction of a generalised system of tariff preferences under which industrialised countries granted trade preferences to all developing countries. The European Community was the first to introduce a GSP in 1971. The scheme of generalised tariff preferences 2009-2011 is covered by the guidelines defined for the period 2006-2015, which succeed the GSP 2006-2008.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 732/2008

26.8.2008

-

OJ L 211 of 6.8.2008

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

Last updated: 20.11.2008
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