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SIGL: Système Integré de Gestion des Licences à l'Exportation et à l'Importation (Integrated System for Managing Exports ad Import Licences)

SIGL
    In 2001, the European Union accounted for over € 350 billion of trade in textiles and clothing worldwide. In the EU alone, the sector directly employs over 2.1 million people, with an annual turnover of € 200 billion, and its exports represent € 45 billion - the world’s second largest exporter after China. The EU is also the world’s largest steel producer with 159 million tonnes of crude steel (19% of world production) in 2001. For the import of textiles and steel products some controls are in place, which in the vast majority of cases result from agreements between the EU and third countries. These controls come in the form of quotas-restrictions, double checking or automatic licensing. SIGL helps Europe manage its textile and steel imports in accordance with the EU commitments to the World Trade Organisation and other international agreements.

Last update: 03/2004

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What is SIGL?
Objectives
How does it work?

Achievements

Who benefits?

The role of IDA
Technical information

 

What is SIGL?

SIGL, an Internet-based system run by the European Commission's DG Trade, assists the management of EU textile and clothing licences, and steel imports. Its website provides information on the quota levels applied in the European Community. However, SIGL is not just about management systems. The creation of such a system also highlights the importance of smooth cooperation between administrations, importers and suppliers.

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Objectives

SIGL aims to help the European Commission and the EU Member States manage at Community level the authorisation of textile and steel product imports. These imports are subject to quantitative restrictions (quotas) or to surveillance measures.

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How does it work?

The use of textile, clothing and steel quotas depends on both the established quantitative limits for each respective product and the authorisation of the licensing authorities in each of the EU Member States. The SIGL network creates an electronic link between the European Commission and the various Government Departments in the EU Member States that authorise imports; thereby facilitating effortless transactions and verifications. In this manner, SIGL acts as both a reference for the national licensing authorities and as a monitoring system to ensure full compliance with trade requirements and regulations.

Information on the use of quotas is made available on the SIGL website and is updated every two hours. Its user-friendly presentation makes it accessible to public administrators and the general public alike. Users can retrieve information:

  • Sorted by country;
  • On the quotas used each year for textiles and steel.

In addition, users can access specific information such as a Direct Import Goods Report which will inform them of:

  • Working levels;
  • Amounts licensed;
  • Amounts pending.

For instance, at 16:00 on 17 February 2003 in India, for cotton yarn, not put up for retail sale (in Kilos), there is a working level of 43,146,850; 4,042,140 of amount licensed and 0 pending. However, SIGL is an administrative tool and, whilst providing quota information to the public, it does not supply transactional data for commercial purposes. The import licensing offices in each EU Member State are also provided with intranet facilities that enable them to access electronic versions of export licences for textile products supplied by countries that have bilateral textile trade agreements.

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Achievements

  • SIGL is operational around the clock and currently processes around 1.5 million import authorisations per year.
  • In addition to covering all EU Member States, SIGL also networks with 21 other countries that have bilateral textile agreements with the EU, including China, Vietnam, Pakistan and India. Of these countries 18 now issue electronic export licences thus facilitating faster clearance of goods through EC customs.
  • SIGL is accessible via a website. The information provided allows all interested persons to see the results of the Commission's management of the quotas at any given point in time.

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Who benefits?

Businesses: European importers are the main beneficiaries. Prior to 1993, individual Member States managed the European Community quotas in these fields. This invariably led to blockages in some countries, whilst in others quotas would still be available. In many cases importers would have to wait for weeks before unused quotas could be transferred between the Member States. By introducing a central control system that administrates the quotas, SIGL has eradicated such regional blockages and facilitated transactions. Establishing links with countries that have bilateral textile agreements (and in close cooperation with OLAF, the Commission Anti-Fraud Office) has also proven advantageous, reducing the levels of fraud and thereby benefiting the entire European Community. These links have also fostered the development of an electronic export licensing system that benefits importers by minimising delays in customs clearance.

Public Administrations: The administrative transparency that SIGL provides benefits all parties involved. The different Government Departments responsible for the authorisation of imports are able to liaise efficiently with the European Commission.

Citizens: Anyone who is interested in the results of the Commission's management of the quotas can access this information online.

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The role of IDA

Currently 23 EU Member States make use of TESTA for their SIGL exchanges.

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Technical information 

Project start date

1993

Project completion date

unknown

Project status

Implementation

Responsible service

DG Trade

Project coordinator

Philippe Ruys

Contact

idabc@ec.europa.eu

Countries involved

All EU Member States and 21 other countries

Public website

http://sigl.cec.eu.int/

Background documents

Council Regulation (EC) No. 3030/93 (1), Council Regulation (EC) No. 517/94(2), Council Regulation (EC) No. 3060/95(3)

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