EU strikes off North African nations from 2014 Preferential Trade System

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A revised EU import preference scheme – known as the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) – which will take effect from 1 January 2014, is expected to deprive exports from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia from enjoying preferential access to the markets of developed European countries.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht insists the revised GSP will make Europe’s preferential import scheme more effective. “It was an important recognition that key developing economies have become globally competitive”, he said while adding that the initiative is taken to prop up the EU’s “pro-development trade scheme” and lend support to countries that are still lagging behind.

The European Union says the primary objective of the GSP is to contribute to the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development and good governance. Developing economies, including that of North Africa, are granted preferential tariff rates when exporting to the EU market that enables them to participate freely in international trade and generate additional export revenue to support their economy, create jobs and reduce poverty.

The current GSP scheme will remain valid until 31 December 2013, thus giving economic operators time to adapt to the revised regime approved by the European council and Parliament following a proposal made by the European commission.

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.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) was launched by the EEC, predecessor of the EU, in 1971 as part of a bid to help exporters from developing countries pay lower duties on some or all of what they sold to the European Economic Community. The scheme has been touted as an important measure that gives developing economies a vital access to EU markets and fosters economic growth.

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