BTSF: First of all, what exactly is the Export Helpdesk?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: It's basically a free, easy-to-use, online service on how to export any good to the EU. It aims to help businesses in developing countries to access the EU market. We see it as a one-stop-shop at which firms can get all of the information and advice they need within a few clicks.
BTSF: How can the Export Helpdesk make it easier for developing countries to access the EU market?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: We can not change the rules but we can explain them. That is already a big help for them! They know the EU is an interesting market (500 million consumers with 25% of the world’s GDP) and they also know Europe does not produce the same things as they do, such as coffee, cotton or tropical fruit. In addition, they know that the EU gives them preferential access. However, they often do not know how to make the most of this.
So how can they capitalise on this? At the Export Helpdesk we explain how.
BTSF: What kind of information does it provide?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: It answers the questions which, how, how much and who. Which EU requirements and standards apply to their product, how much it will cost them to enter the EU, how to benefit from preferential duty and pay less to enter the single market, and who in Europe is already buying their product and from whom.
In other words, exporters can find the technical and specific EU requirements we have in order to protect consumers’ health and rights or the environment. The Helpdesk sets out import tariffs and preferential agreements that, in many cases, allow them to export duty-free and quota-free, it explains rules of origin and, finally, it provides statistics on trade flows between the EU and all other countries.
However, the main characteristic of the Export Helpdesk is that it is product-specific and country-specific. Via a simple input form, exporters can apply all this information to their case. And all of this is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic.
BTSF: Is the Helpdesk also of interest to importers?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: Absolutely. Importers need to be aware of these issues as well. Import requirements, national taxes and country-specific duties are key data for estimating costs and negotiating prices. Last year, 20% of our users connected from Europe.
BTSF: Why has the Helpdesk been re-launched?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: To improve the usability and the content. We wanted to make it easier and more in-depth so we have significantly improved our system for searching for information. Now, businesses and business support organisations can access all key data in one click at the "My Export" link. In addition, we have made the information we provide more detailed and we also provide much more substantial explanations of how the EU market works.
BTSF: How does My Export work?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: At My Export, you fill in a form stating which product you want to export (using the EU code which you can find online), from which country and to which country in Europe. You should also add a simulation date; this is relevant if seasonal quotas apply. By clicking on “search” you will have all of the relevant information at your fingertips. This includes a list of EU import requirements applying to your product, an explanation of each requirement, relevant legislation, documentation to complete, contact details of competent authorities and VAT and excise duty in the destination country. You will also find the import tariff applying to your case, whether you can benefit from a preferential trade arrangement or discount tariff and any quotas or anti-dumping measures which apply. If you benefit from a preferential tariff, you will be able to see the Rule of Origin and the documents you need to fill in to prove it. All of this in just one click!.
BTSF: What are the other main features of the new Helpdesk?
Ines Escudero Sanchez: New pages have been added in order to give users a clearer understanding of how the EU market works, including sanitary and phytosanitary, environmental and technical requirements, as well as marketing standards. The new Helpdesk also gives tips on how to better get to grips with the relevant EU legislation. A new key feature is that we list all of the EU's preferential trade agreements with developing countries, explain them and identify the applicable rules of origin. This is very concrete and practical information for exporters that cannot be found anywhere else. In support of the Helpdesk, we have produced a three minute video to allow users to see clearly how it works and we will soon publish a series of 100 factsheets giving an overview of EU requirements and rules of origin for different product types.
For more information, please visit www.exporthelp.europa.eu