§ Lord Dykes
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they expect that developing countries will benefit substantially from the new Generalised System of Preferences Draft Regulations announced in October 2004 for enhanced preferential access to European Union markets. [HL1240]
§ Baroness Amos
One of the UK's key objectives for renegotiation of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) scheme is to increase the development gains to beneficiary countries of increased trade with the EU, within the context of trade liberalisation through the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
HMG's initial analysis of the proposal is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum 13931/04 COM(04)699 final.
Full implementation of the draft regulation in its current form will remove preferences for those countries competitive across a number of custom chapters (graduation). It will also extend the product coverage of the GSP scheme to include agricultural and fishery products and remove those countries that enjoy equal preferential access to the EU market under the terms of a free trade agreement (FTA). The special incentive arrangement will provide duty free access to "vulnerable" countries which have satisfied a range of criteria, including the ratification of 23 international conventions. Ratification of all 27 conventions will be required by 31 December 2008.
The changes relating to graduation will result in winners and losers; in the period up to 2008 there will be significantly more winners, including three of the countries most affected by the Tsunami—India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Negotiations on the draft regulation are ongoing. The UK will continue to work to ensure the groupings and criteria for GSP exclusion and withdrawal take into account developmental needs of beneficiaries.