Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)
The EU's "Generalised Scheme of Preferences" (GSP) allows developing countries to pay less or no duties on their exports to the EU. This gives them vital access to EU markets and contributes to their economic growth.
As from 1 January 2014, the EU's reformed GSP set out by Regulation 978/2012 applies. The reformed Scheme focuses support on developing countries most in need.
On 28 January 2016, the Commission published its first bi-annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the effects of the reformed GSP, in particular the GSP+ arrangement supporting sustainable development and good governance.
Interim evaluation of the EU Regulation No 978/2012 on a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP Regulation)
Generalised Scheme of Preferences in a nutshell
EU-funded ILO project on labour rights in GSP+ countries
The European Commission has provided a grant to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for a 2-year pilot-project to strengthen the capacity of public administrations to apply the eight Fundamental ILO Conventions that are considered as fundamental principles and rights at work. The project was launched on 1 October 2015 and covers El Salvador, Guatemala, Mongolia and Pakistan. These are all countries that have committed to apply the Fundamental ILO Conventions listed under the preferential trade arrangements with the EU, namely the GSP+ arrangement and bilateral trade agreements. The capacity of the selected countries will be strengthened to help them to meet their obligations under these Conventions, including on reporting. Such assistance will consist of ILO technical assistance, workshops, trainings, as well as awareness-raising activities.
For more information, please check ILO Labour Standards webpage.
and to access specific country profiles please consult NORMLEX
Similar projects for other countries benefitting from trade preferences under the GSP+ arrangement are currently under development.
There are three main variants (arrangements) of the GSP Scheme:
- the standard/general GSP arrangement, which offers generous tariff reductions to developing countries. Practically, this means partial or entire removal of tariffs on two thirds of all product categories.
- the "GSP+" enhanced preferences mean full removal of tariffs on essentially the same product categories as those covered by the general arrangement. These are granted to countries which ratify and implement core international conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance;
- "Everything but Arms" (EBA) arrangement for least developed countries (LDCs), which grants duty-free quota-free access to all products, except for arms and ammunitions.
The EU adopted a reformed GSP law on 31 October 2012 (Regulation No 978/2012). In order to allow ample time for economic operators to adapt smoothly to the new Scheme, it was decided that the reformed preferences would apply as of 1 January 2014.
The implementation of the reformed GSP requires regular adoption of additional legislation:
- In December 2012, the EU identified a list of products that had become so competitive that they no longer need support to be successfully exported to the EU. These products no longer receive GSP preferences as from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2016 when an updated list will start applying. This decision, however, does not apply to countries which benefit from GSP+ status in the period concerned.
- In February 2013, the EU released procedural rules on how to treat the applications for the GSP+ arrangement under the reformed GSP.
- In February 2013, a decision deferring the GSP preferences from Azerbaijan and Iran due to their economic development level as from 23 February 2014 was published.
- In November 2013, procedural rules for temporary withdrawals of preferences and application of safeguards under the new Scheme were issued.
- In December 2013, a decision identifying the countries which will cease to benefit from the GSP due to their economic development level as from 1 January 2015 was released. Moreover, this decision ensures that South Sudan continues to benefit from the recently acquired EBA arrangement under the reformed GSP Scheme and that Myanmar/Burma is reinstated also in the reformed GSP Scheme.
- First ten countries qualified for the enhanced GSP+ preferences and started to benefit from them as from 1 January 2014.
- Three more countries qualified for the GSP+ preferences and started to benefit from them on 28 February 2014.
- In September 2014, a decision identifying the countries which will cease to benefit from the GSP due to their economic development level or application of a free trade agreement with the EU as from 1 January 2016 was published.
- In September 2014, the EU decided to re-introduce into the GSP the partners which would no longer enjoy another preferential access to the EU markets after 1 October 2014.
- One more country qualified for and started to benefit from the GSP+ preferences as from 25 December 2014.
- The vulnerability criteria for qualifying for the GSP+ arrangement were adjusted to the modifications in the list of the GSP beneficiaries as from 1 January 2015
- The thresholds for determining competitive products which no longer need GSP preferences to be successfully exported to the EU were adjusted to the modifications in the list of the GSP beneficiaries as from 1 January 2015
- In November 2015, a decision identifying the countries which will cease to benefit from the GSP due to their economic development level or application of a free trade agreement with the EU as from 1 January 2017 was published. Moreover, this decision provides for exclusion of Samoa from the EBA arrangement due to the country's graduation out of the least-developed country status as of 1 January 2019
- One more country qualified for and started to benefit from the GSP+ preferences as from 26 January 2016.
- In March 2016, the EU identified an updated list of products that had become so competitive that they no longer need support to be successfully exported to the EU. These products will no longer receive GSP preferences as from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2019 when the list will be reviewed. This decision, however, will not apply to countries which will benefit from GSP+ in the period concerned
The codes of the EU Combined Nomenclature can be subject to small adjustments at the end of every year. In case of discrepancy between the CN codes which are included in Annexes V and IX and the adjusted codes included in the TARIC database, the latter will be of application.
EU trade and Generalised Scheme of Preferences
Main features of the reformed GSP:
- Concentrate GSP preferences on developing countries most in need. A number of countries, which do not require GSP preferences to be competitive on the EU markets, no longer benefit from the Scheme, namely:
- Countries that have another preferential access to the EU which is at least as good as under GSP – for example, under a Free Trade Agreement or a special autonomous trade regime.
- Countries which have achieved a high or upper-middle income per capita during three consecutive years, according to the World Bank classification.
- A number of overseas countries and territories, which are either attached to the EU and so have an alternative EU market access arrangement or are linked to another developed country.
- Reinforce the trade incentives for the respect of core human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance standards through the GSP+ arrangement.
- Strengthen the effectiveness of the trade concessions for least-developed countries (LDCs) through the "Everything But Arms" arrangement. Reducing GSP to fewer beneficiaries reduces competitive pressure and makes the preferences for LDCs more meaningful.
- Increase predictability, transparency and stability of the GSP. With the exception of EBA, which has no expiry date, the new Scheme is to last 10 years, instead of 3 previously. This makes it easier and more interesting for EU importers to purchase from GSP beneficiary countries. In addition, procedures have become even more transparent, with clearer, better defined legal principles and objective criteria.
More details on The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (factsheets)
More on Generalised Scheme of Preferences
- Press pack to the first Commission's report on the reformed GSP
- Documents related to the reformed GSP Regulation
- Press pack to the reformed GSP Regulation
- Memo "South Sudan granted duty-free, quota-free preferences under the GSP scheme”
- Press release: "EU re-opens its market to Myanmar/Burma"