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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Reforms of EU tariff preference affects Fiji and Palau

Fiji and Palau are two Pacific Island Countries off the list of nations eligible for the European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme by virtue of their classification as Upper Middle Income (UMI) economies. […] In March 2010, the EC initiated a public consultation process to review its tariff preference before the EU Parliament agreed to temporarily continue these unilateral trade preferences from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013. GSP is a preferential trade arrangement which gives reduced or zero import duty to imports from developing countries. […] “Fiji and PNG are benefitting from the market access regulation (MAR), an arrangement given to ACP countries that have signed an EPA or an interim agreement but have not yet ratified it. “It is like a temporary bridging legislation that is unilateral in nature. However, in the event that Fiji can no longer be categorised as an Upper Middle Income economy by the World Bank and absolves itself from an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, it will again become a beneficiary of the GSP. The Everything But Arms (EBA) Initiative is another non-reciprocal preferential trade regime given by the EU to LDCs alone. EBA is excluded from the reform. To date, only Solomon Islands has utilised GSP trade preferences for tuna exports to the EU under the EBA regime, given its LDC classification. Other non-LDC Pacific Island Countries with market access to the EU, like Fiji and PNG have opted to utilise duty free market access under the Cotonou Agreement through the establishment of interim EPAs. PACNEWS understands that preferences offered under the standard GSP are too low and offered to too many competing developing countries to provide any competitive advantage to tuna exporters from the Pacific. […] The EU itself needs to protect its trade and foreign policy interests in a changing global landscape where some of the countries which now pose a threat to its future economic development, viability and prosperity continue to feed off the EU GSP scheme as its major beneficiaries, while the countries which the EU considers as needing these trade preferences the most, are left to compete over the crumbs that fall off the GSP table, PACNEWS was told. The expected entry into force date of the new GSP regime is 01 January 2014.

Source: Pacific Islands News Association

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