The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences, a unilateral scheme that sets reduced duties on imports from developing countries, expires on 31 December 2023. amfori considers that the current scheme has, for the most part, achieved its goal to foster the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of developing countries, and so the new GSP should follow this model closely. That said, there could be improvements.
EU companies could benefit if processed food and fish were added to the standard GSP and if duty reductions were increased. This is turn would increase income to the relevant beneficiary countries. amfori strongly believes in sustainable trade and as such believes that beneficiary countries must respect their commitments to adhere to the principles of the core ILO and UN conventions. As indicated in its recent Trade Policy Review, the Commission should step-up its monitoring of those commitments, and should also improve its transparency and reporting to civil society. amfori also believes that the withdrawal of preferences should remain a possibility – albeit as a last resort – if those commitments are abused.
Finally, to counter the negative effects that may arise from increased production (particularly if that is focused in one sector) that can arise from GSP, beneficiary countries should be incentivised to diversify their production and produce in a more environmentally friendly way.
amfori’s position paper “The EU GSP: gains, sustainability…progress?” covers these issues and can be read here.
A study concerning a review of the GSP and what form it should take post 2023, that was commissioned by the European Commission, is due in March 2021.
Stuart Newman, Senior Legal Advisor – Sustainable Trade & Customs