I. Introduction - On 4 October 2012, the European Council of Ministers adopted the new EU scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) for developing countries, which will replace the current GSP regime in the future. The new scheme is largely based on a 2011 proposal by the European Commission, subsequently amended and adopted by the European Parliament on 13 June 2012. The new Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the EU before the end of 2012, and will apply as of 1 January 2014.
II. Background - The EU has had GSP rules in place since 1971 to ensure that most exports from developing countries enjoy preferential duty access to the EU market. The EU’s GSP regime these days can generally be divided into three arrangements: the overall “standard” GSP regime; the "GSP+" incentive regime granting further tariff reductions for those GSP beneficiary countries that respect certain labour, human, environmental and good governance rights and rules; and the "Everything but Arms" (EBA) regime providing for duty free and quota free access of all goods, with the exception of arms, from least developed countries. The current GSP regime – applicable since 2009 - is set out in Council Regulation 732/2008, which will expire on 31 December 2013. As has been the case at the end of every “cycle”, the regime is adjusted to ensure that benefits are granted to those countries and those product sectors which the EU considers to be truly in need of autonomous duty preferences.
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