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Generalised system of preferences (GSP)

First created in 1971, the EU’s GSP is a scheme that allows vulnerable developing countries to pay lower tariffs on their exports to the EU. The GSP rules were revised in 2012 under Regulation (EU) No 978/2012.

The GSP aims to help boost the economies of the countries in question, reducing poverty and creating jobs. In this way, these countries can better integrate into the global economy by exporting their products to the EU.

Based on international values and principles, including labour and human rights, the GSP comprises:

  • Standard GSP — tariffs for goods imported from a developing country are reduced or suspended. However, 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+ (an incentive scheme) — even lower tariffs for countries which ratify and implement 27 specified international conventions covering human and labour rights, environment and good governance;
  • Everything But Arms (EBA) for least developed countries (LDCs) — full tariff and quota-free imports for all goods from UN-defined LDCs, except for arms.

The EU may temporarily suspend the scheme where, for example, a developing country violates human and labour rights conventions, engages in unfair trading practices or does not respect customs controls (e.g. allows the export or transit of illegal drugs).