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Summary:

Facility granted unilaterally to developing countries including the 'Everything but arms initiative' for Least Developed Countries.

Generalised System of Preferences

a) General introduction

The principle of GSP was agreed at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and is a facility granted to developing countries ("beneficiary countries") by certain developed countries ("donor countries"). It is not negotiated with them: the preferential treatment is non-reciprocal.

The GSP schemes offered by the various donor countries and their rules of origin differ fundamentally. Goods complying with the conditions of the GSP of the USA , for example, will not necessarily comply with the EC GSP.

Special arrangements have been established in order to address the special needs of the least developed countries. Following the so-called "Everything But Arms" (EBA) initiative introduced in 2001, the EC GSP grants these countries duty-and quota-free access for almost all their exports.

For more detailed information on general aspects of the GSP and its background, see the GSP pages of DG Trade.

Exporters in developing countries may also be interested to see the Expanding Exports Helpdesk of DG TRADE.

For more detailed information on the rules of origin aspect, see the Commission's guide for users on GSP rules of origin (The European Community's rules of origin for the GSP: A Guide for traders).

Warning : not all countries listed as beneficiaries may actually qualify. Myanmar for example is temporarily suspended from GSP, while some other countries have not yet complied with the administrative cooperation requirements, which are a pre-condition for goods to be granted the benefit of the preference. If in doubt, your competent customs authorities will advise.

b) Legal framework

GSP rules of origin are contained in Articles 66 to 97 and Annexes 14 to 18 and 21 Reg. 2454/93 (IPC) (as amended by Regulations (EC) Nos. 12/97, 1602/2000 and 881/2003). The list rules are contained in Annex 15 CCIP (as amended by Regulation No. 881/2003).

Please note that these are large regulations, which do not concern only origin. However, the Commission's guide for users on GSP rules of origin (The European Community's rules of origin for the GSP: A Guide for traders) includes an unofficial consolidated version of the legal text concerning GSP rules of origin.

It is pointed out that GSP is a single regime. The special arrangements it includes (EBA, the Special Incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP Plus)) are part of GSP, so the same rules apply to them. They do not have separate or different rules.

The GSP regulation for the period to 31/12/2008 is Council Regulation (EC) No. 980/2005. The text may be found on the GSP pages of DG Trade.

It is pointed out that although reform of GSP rules of origin is in hand (see New developments), it was not possible to implement this at the same time as the new GSP scheme. Therefore the present rules will continue to apply for an initial period.

c) Specific provisions

NOTICE: These specific provisions only contain information on cases where the rules of the particular arrangement differ from the common provisions, or where these common provisions need to be complemented. Therefore, always check the common provisions too.

Cumulation

  • Regional cumulation
  • Cumulation with goods originating in Norway and Switzerland

Neither diagonal cumulation nor full cumulation is permitted.

Regional cumulation of origin

The groups that may benefit from this are:

  • Group I: Brunei- Darussalam , Cambodia , Indonesia , Laos , Malaysia , Philippines , Singapore , Thailand , Vietnam ;
  • Group II: Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela;
  • Group III: Bangladesh , Bhutan , India , Maldives , Nepal , Pakistan , Sri Lanka .

Products originating in any of the countries of a particular group and used in further manufacture in another country of that group shall be treated as if they originated in the country of further manufacture, provided the value added there is greater than the highest customs value of the products used originating in any one of the other countries of the regional group, and the working or processing carried out there is more than minimal. Where these conditions are not both fulfilled, the goods are considered to originate in the country of the regional group, which accounts for the highest customs value of the originating products coming from other countries of the regional group.

Regional cumulation involves mutual administrative cooperation between members of the group, who must certify the origin each time goods are sent to another member of the group.

Cumulation with goods originating in Norway and Switzerland

Because the GSP schemes offered by Norway and Switzerland are similar to EC GSP, a certain linkage between them is possible. Materials (other than agricultural products or products covered by a derogation) which originate in Norway or Switzerland which undergo more than a minimal operation in a beneficiary country, are considered to originate in that beneficiary country, and may be exported to the EC, to Norway or to Switzerland.

In addition, the customs authorities in the Community, Norway or Switzerland may, for the purpose of sending the goods on to one of the other parties, replace a Form A issued by the authorities of a beneficiary country.

The legal provisions are complemented by an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the parties, published in OJ L 38, 8/2/2001 , p. 25.

Minimal operations

The list of minimal operations may be found in Article 70 CCIP (as amended by Regulation No. 881/2003).

General tolerance rule

The level of the general tolerance rule for non-textile products is set at 10%.

No drawback rule

There is no "no drawback" rule.

Principle of territoriality

Working or processing outside the territory of the beneficiary country (without prejudice to regional cumulation) is not permitted. Goods exported and subsequently returned may be considered as originating only if it can be demonstrated that they are the same as those exported, and that they have not undergone any operations beyond those necessary to preserve them in good condition.

Direct transport

A special arrangement exists for goods of Chinese origin sent via Hong Kong. Proof may be given by the stamp of the China Inspection Co. Ltd. in Box 4 of the Form A.

The countries of each regional group recognised for regional cumulation are considered as a single territory for the purposes of the direct transport rule. Thus goods originating in one country of a group may pass through the territory of another member of the group without the rule being broken.

Proof of origin

The normal proof of origin for goods exported from a beneficiary country to the Community is certificate of origin Form A. Except for derogations, an invoice declaration may be used for goods whose total value does not exceed Euro 6 000.

Where goods of Community origin are exported to a beneficiary country with a view to bilateral cumulation, the Community exporter must use movement certificate EUR 1. An invoice declaration may be used by approved exporters and also by any exporter for goods whose total value does not exceed Euro 6 000.

The period of validity is 10 months.

The maximum value limit of the exemption from the requirement to present a proof of origin for small packages sent from one private person to another is Euro 500 and for goods contained in travellers' personal luggage, it is Euro 1 200.

Derogations

Derogations from GSP rules of origin may be granted to least-developed countries who make a request and three countries (Laos, Cambodia and Nepal ) currently have one for certain textile products. They are temporary since they are intended to aid the country's industry to develop, but they may be extended if still justified.

The derogations granted to Laos, Cambodia and Nepal allow them to use materials at a later stage of manufacture than normal and to source them more widely. While a manufacturing operation must take place there, there is no value-added condition. See Regulations Nos. 1613/2000, 1614/2000 and 1615/2000 respectively (OJ L 185, 25/7/2000, pp. 38, 46 and 54), as last amended by Regulations 2186/2004, 2187/2004* and 2188/2004 (OJ L 373, 21/12/2004, pp. 14, 16 and 18). * The English version of Regulation No. 2187/2004 was incorrect. A corrigendum was published in OJ L 374, 22/12/2004, p. 75. This was itself the subject of a further corrigendum, published in OJ L 375, 23/12/2004, p. 35.

In order to ensure that the goods imported into the Community are treated in accordance with the derogation, it is essential that certificate of origin Form A is endorsed as specified in the derogation-regulations.