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Preferential tariffs for imports from developing countries: An example of good practice in setting trade policy


31 Oct 2012


Trade & Society

EuroCommerce welcomes the new Generalised System of Preferencesi (GSP) published today in the EU’s Official Journal. More than one year ahead of its application, it gives European importers and retailers the planning certainty they need. So far, this has not always been the case in European trade policy.

The new preferential tariffs for imports from developing countries are now easier to use for the importers they are supposed to be attracting. They are stable enough for traders to plan their imports properly and the entry into force in January 2014 gives economic operators sufficient time to adapt their sourcing strategies.

A GSP that works in practice needs to be mindful of importers’ buying circles: many orders are placed months before consignments arrive. From a practical point of view, importers need to know all details of the new GSP one year before they are applied.

“In trade policy, predictability is key. The new GSP is an example of good practice in this respect. The EU has taken due account of importers’ needs for simple, stable and predictable rules”, said EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren.

EuroCommerce has been asking for a new GSP along these lines since 2009. Today’s publication concludes a high-standard decision-making process in which all stakeholders’ legitimate interests have been properly balanced and constructively reconciled. EuroCommerce expects that the remaining details (graduation and GSP+ beneficiary countries) will be announced soon.


For further information, please contact:

Marjolein Raes

Director of Advocacy & Communications

Tel: +32 2 737 05 99

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries.

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 99% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 33 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.


(i) The Generalised System of Preferences aims to encourage imports from developing countries by allowing their products preferential access to the EU market.