The EU publishes revised preferential import scheme for developing countries

Brussels, 1-11-2012 — / — The EU has issued today its revised import preference scheme – known as the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) – for developing countries most in need which will take effect from 1 January 2014. Following agreement with the Council and European Parliament, today’s publication contains the specific tariff preferences granted under the GSP in the form of reduced or zero tariff rates and the final criteria for which developing countries will benefit. The new scheme will be focused on fewer beneficiaries (89 countries) to ensure more impact on countries most in need.

At the same time, more support will be provided to countries which are serious about implementing international human rights, labour rights and environment and good governance conventions.

“I am delighted that EU Member States and Members of the European Parliament have backed the Commission’s proposal to make our preferential import scheme more effective. It was an important recognition that key developing economies have become globally competitive. This now allows us to tailor our pro-development trade scheme to give the countries still lagging behind some additional breathing space and support.” said EU TradeCommissioner Karel De Gucht.

The current GSP scheme will remain valid until 1 January 2014, thus giving economic operators time to adapt to the revised regime.

The Council and the European Parliament built on the Commission’s proposal by introducing a wider though limited expansion of products and preferences, a longer transition period for the application of the new GSP, and by expanding specific safeguards to include ethanol and plain textiles.

Which partners are beneficiaries in the reformed GSP?

The new scheme is expected to start with 89 beneficiaries: 49 least developed countries in the Everything But Arms scheme, and 40 other low and lower-middle income partners:

Everything But Arms (49):

  • 33 in Africa (Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Benin, Chad, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Central African (Republic), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros Islands, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia);
  • 10 in Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao (People’s Democratic Republic), Maldives (until end 2013 as they have exited the UN Least Developed Country list), Myanmar/Burma (preferences currently withdrawn), Nepal, Timor-Leste, Yemen);
  • 5 in Australia and Pacific (Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu)
  • 1 the Caribbean (Haiti).

These partners will enjoy more opportunities to export as competitors exit the scheme.

Low and lower middle income partners (40):

  • Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, China, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Kirghizia, Marshall (islands), Micronesia (federate States of), Mongolia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Niue, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Syrian (Arab Republic), Tajikistan, Thailand, Congo (Republic of), Tonga, Turkmenistan, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

These partners will also enjoy more opportunities to export as competitors exit the scheme.

Which countries will no longer benefit?

The main country categories which will no longer benefit from the GSP scheme are as follows:

33 overseas countries and territories. These are mainly EU territories which have their own market access regulation—and thus do not use GSP to enter the EU. Reform will be in general neutral for them. This is the case for:

Anguilla, Netherlands Antilles, Antarctica, American Samoa, Aruba, Bermuda, Bouvet Island, Cocos Islands, Christmas Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Guam, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, French Polynesia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, French Southern Territories, Tokelau, United States Minor Outlying Islands, Virgin Islands – British, Virgin Islands- US, Wallis and Futuna, Mayotte.

34 countries which enjoy another trade arrangement with the EU which provides substantially equivalent coverage as compared to GSP. This includes countries with a Free Trade Agreement or with autonomous arrangements (such as the Market Access Regulation for countries with an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) or the special regime for Western Balkan countries). Given that use of GSP is marginal for these countries, reform will in general be neutral for them. This is the case for:

  • Euromed (6): Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Cariforum (14): Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Guyana, Surinam
  • Eastern Southern Africa (3): Seychelles, Mauritius, Zimbabwe
  • Pacific (1): Papua New Guinea
  • Economic Partnership Agreement Market Access Regulation (8): Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Fiji
  • Other (2): Mexico, South Africa

Countries which have been listed by the World Bank as high or upper middle income economies for the past three years, based on Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. These are:

  • 8 high-income partners (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Brunei Darussalam; Macao) and
  • 12 upper-middle income partners (Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela; Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan; Gabon, Libya, Malaysia, Palau).

Some limited drops in exports (typically in the 1% range) are expected for many of these partners. Even marginal drops in exports by more advanced, bigger economies, can potentially provide significant opportunities for the poorest, whose exports are very small in comparison. To give an idea of the order or magnitude, a drop of 1% in, say, Brazilian exports, is equivalent to more than 16 times Burkina Faso’s total exports to the EU.

Countries in the second and third category remain “eligible”, but are no longer “beneficiaries” of the GSP scheme. This means that in case their situation changes (if they are no longer listed as high or middle upper income countries by the World Bank or if their trade arrangement expires) they become beneficiaries of the scheme again.

How have products and preference margins been expanded?

Product coverage under standard GSP is already very high: 66% of tariff lines. If we add the 25% of other lines which are already at 0% normal duty, only 9% of tariff lines are today outside GSP. For EBA, all products but arms receive duty-free, quota-free access already. This underlines the generosity of the EU’s GSP.

The new GSP incorporates a wider though limited expansion in products and preference margins for 23 tariff lines, mainly dealing with raw materials (see annex for a list). These products have been carefully selected to avoid negative impacts on the poorest (LDCs), which already have duty free, quota free access for all products.


In 2011, imports that received GSP preferences were worth €87 billion, which represents around 5% of total EU imports and 11% of the total EU imports from developing countries.

Products which have been incorporated into the new GSP from

1 January 2014


GSP: New tariff lines benefiting from preferences (duty free)

CN code Description
280519 Alkali/alkaline-earth metals other than sodium & calcium
280530 Rare-earth metals, scandium & yttrium, whether/not intermixed/interalloyed
281820 Aluminium oxide (excl. artificial corundum)
310221 Ammonium sulphate
310240 Mixtures of ammonium nitrate with calcium carbonate/other inorganic non-fertilising substance
310250 Sodium nitrate
310260 Double salts & mixtures of calcium nitrate & ammonium nitrate
320120 Wattle extract
780199 Unwrought lead other than refined, n.e.s. in 78.01
810194 Unwrought tungsten (wolfram), incl. bars & rods obt. simply by sintering
810411 Unwrought magnesium, containing at least 99.8% by weight of magnesium
810419 Unwrought magnesium (excl. of 8104.11)
810720 Unwrought cadmium; powders
810820 Unwrought titanium; powders
810830 Titanium waste & scrap

GSP: Tariff lines which were subject to duty reduction and will be duty free

CN code Description


Fresh Cut Carnations And Buds, Of A Kind Suitable For Bouquets Or For Ornamental Purposes
24011060 Sun-Cured Oriental Type Tobacco, Unstemmed Or Unstripped
39076020 Pol “Ethylene Terephthalate”, In Primary Forms, Having A Viscosity Number Of >= 78 Ml/G”)


Video Recording Or Reproducing Apparatus (Excl. Magnetic Tape-Type);Video Recording Or Reproducing Apparatus, Whether Or Not Incorporating A Video Tuner (Excl. Magnetic Tape-Type And Video Camera Recorders)

GSP+: New tariff lines benefiting from preferences (duty free)

CN code Description
280519 Alkali/alkaline-earth metals other than sodium & calcium
280530 Rare-earth metals, scandium & yttrium, whether/not intermixed/interalloyed
281820 Aluminium oxide (excl. artificial corundum)
780199 Unwrought lead other than refined, n.e.s. in 78.01

For more information


Complete text of the proposal of the new GSP regulation

Background on the current GSP scheme:

Contacts :

John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)


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