Brussels, 20 October 2004
Developing countries: the Commission proposes system of trade preferences for 2006-2008 –targeting countries most in need, simpler, encouraging sustainable development
Today the European Commission has adopted a proposal setting out the details of the EU system of trade preferences (Generalised System of Preferences – GSP) for the period 2006-2008. This proposal builds on the guidelines issued by the Commission in July. The GSP is a key instrument to help developing countries reduce poverty by stimulating their exports to the EU. The Commission proposes to improve the current system in a number of areas: simplification (cutting back from five to three separate arrangements); expanding the product coverage; focusing the benefits on those developing countries most in need; and setting up an additional GSP benefits scheme (« GSP+ ») to encourage sustainable development. The text will now be sent to the EU Member States, European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee so that it can be adopted in time for entry into force on 1 July 2005.
Presenting the new GSP system EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: ”The EU is already the world’s largest provider of trade preferences in favour of developing countries – enabling us to import more than all other major developed countries put together. But we want to do even better, by focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries who most need trade preferences to access the EU market. I am also delighted that in today’s scheme, we are also making a sizeable and concrete downpayment on sustainable development in our new GSP+ scheme”
The Commission’s proposal in detail:
Countries with preferential access to the EU market under a bilateral agreement (e.g., a free trade area) will be removed from the list of GSP beneficiaries since they already enjoy better access to the EU market.
The proposed GSP+ system, based on clear, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria, fully complies with the WTO Appellate Body ruling in the case brought forward by India against the EU’s GSP drugs regime. The WTO had requested that the EU brought its GSP drug system in compliance with WTO rules no later than 1 July 2005.
This text will now be presented to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee. It is expected to be adopted as soon as possible so that it can enter into force on 1 July 2005, as requested by the WTO.
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