European Commission presents its new GSP scheme: EU trade measures could go much further, says Oxfam

Published: 1 November 2005

Brussels: The European Commission's decision to adopt a new system of trade preferences for poor countries will help poor countries to trade their way out of poverty, but the gains will be limited as many of Europe's protectionist measures have been maintained, said international agency Oxfam today.

Brussels: The European Commission's decision to adopt a new system of trade preferences for poor countries will help poor countries to trade their way out of poverty, but the gains will be limited as many of Europe's protectionist measures have been maintained, said international agency Oxfam today.

"After three months of wrangling, the newly adopted scheme is a step in the right direction," said Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam International Office in Brussels. "Commissioner Mandelson has fought hard to get a deal accepted and we welcome this. However, Europe could and should do more to show its willingness to help poor people to trade their way out of poverty. The fact that Indian textiles have been left out, when India's GDP is less than US $500 per capita, 50 times less than France, is unjustified."

"The next step is to make the revision of the rules of origin a true tool for poor countries to use and take advantage of what the European market can bring to their industries. The new program will be meaningless for the 50 poorest countries in the world if the rules remain rigid. These countries would then not benefit from the duty-free access they are promised under the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative. This scandal has dragged on for years because of the unwillingness of the European Commission to make them simpler and better," Morago said.

Oxfam wants to see a simplification to the rules of origin so that countries can qualify more easily for reduced tariffs, especially for the least developed countries such as the Maldives, Bangladesh and Cambodia. These countries have – theoretically –duty free access to EU markets for their clothing exports but in practice, still pay hundreds of millions of Euros in duties. Oxfam is calling for the EU to go further and adopt a global cumulation of materials.

Contact Information

For more information: Louis Bélanger, Oxfam Press Officer, Brussels:
32 2 502 0391 or 32 473 562 260
Notes
Through its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) the European Union extends preferential access to its markets to developing countries.
(See: Europa, The European Union Online europa.eu.int )