Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Preferential EU import tariffs for developing countries

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display
Text

Preferential EU import tariffs for developing countries

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

  • In 2012, the European Union (EU) agreed new rules to refocus this scheme, which has been in place since 1971. They make the system more transparent and predictable for beneficiary countries, especially in view of the changed global trade patterns over the past decade. The scheme is now directed at those countries in greatest need.
  • The regulation does not include countries that already enjoy preferences under free trade agreements with the EU, or under ‘autonomous’ arrangements with the bloc (usually temporary, pending the conclusion of more comprehensive, longer-term agreements with the EU).

KEY POINTS

The EU’s scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) allows developing countries to pay lower tariffs on their exports to the EU. This helps boost their economies.

3 strands of the scheme

  • standard GSP – tariffs for goods imported from a developing country are reduced or suspended. Exception – this does not apply if a country has been classified by the World Bank as a high or upper-middle income country for 3 consecutive years immediately before the EU updates the list of beneficiary countries
  • GSP+ (incentive scheme) – even lower tariffs for countries which ratify and implement 27 specified international conventions covering human and labour rights, environment and good governance.
  • EBA (Everything But Arms), for least-developed countries – full tariff and quota-free imports for all goods from the UN-defined least developed countries (LDCs), except for arms.

Suspension of countries

The EU may temporarily suspend the lower tariffs for reasons such as:

  • violations of core principles in human and labour rights conventions
  • unfair trading practices
  • serious shortcomings in customs controls (e.g. export or transit of illegal drugs)
  • if the national law of a GSP+ beneficiary country no longer incorporates the relevant conventions (or that law is not effectively implemented).

Discontinuation as countries develop

  • Some countries can be poor but still develop highly competitive export industries. Once this happens, they no longer need preferences to successfully penetrate EU markets.
  • The GSP scheme therefore withdraws preferences from countries with such competitive product sectors on the basis of a ‘graduation’ mechanism.

More stable & predictable

  • The new GSP, because it lasts 10 years (it was 3 in the past), offers importers and exporters more stability and predictability.
  • Exporters know that, where changes are made in the beneficiaries’ list, there are transition periods of at least 1 year. Countries now have the security of knowing that they can be removed from the beneficiary lists only if the UN lists them as high or upper-middle income 3 years in a row.

Temporary import restrictions

The EU may apply safeguard measures (temporary restrictions) if imports from beneficiary countries cause or threaten to cause ‘serious difficulty’ to an EU producer. It may also apply surveillance measures for farm products. None of these measures has ever been taken in the history of the scheme.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 20 November 2012.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 (OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, pp. 1–82)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Specific rules

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 155/2013 of 18 December 2012 establishing rules related to the procedure for granting the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance under Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 48, 21.2.2013, pp. 5–7)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1083/2013 of 28 August 2013 establishing rules related to the procedure for temporary withdrawal of tariff preferences and adoption of general safeguard measures under Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 293, 5.11.2013, pp. 16–21)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1978 of 28 August 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and the Council as regards the modalities for the application of Article 8 listed in Annex VI to that Regulation (OJ L 289, 5.11.2015, pp. 1–2)

Country coverage

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 496/2013 of 29 May 2013 amending Annex I to Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 143, 30.5.2013, pp. 11–19)

Regulation (EU) No 607/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalised tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma (OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, pp. 13–14)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1421/2013 of 30 October 2013 amending Annexes I, II and IV to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 355, 31.12.2013, pp. 1–15)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1015/2014 of 22 July 2014 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences, and repealing Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 154/2013 (OJ L 283, 27.9.2014, pp. 20–22)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1016/2014 of 22 July 2014 amending Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 283, 27.9.2014, pp. 23–24)

List of countries eligible for GSP+ special arrangement

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 182/2014 of 17 December 2013 amending Annex III to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 57, 27.2.2014, pp. 1–2)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1386/2014 of 19 August 2014 amending Annex III to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 369, 24.12.2014, pp. 33–34)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/602 of 9 February 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and the Council as regards the vulnerability threshold defined in point 1(b) of Annex VII to that Regulation (OJ L 100, 17.4.2015, pp. 8–9)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/79 of 25 November 2015 amending Annex III to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 17, 26.1.2016, pp. 1–2)

GSP coverage by product

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/330 of 8 March 2016 suspending the tariff preferences for certain GSP beneficiary countries in respect of certain GSP sections in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period of 2017-2019 (OJ L 62, 9.3.2016, pp. 9–11)

last update 13.03.2017

Top