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EU imposes stiffer safeguards on textile imports
03
Mar '12
High and upper-middle income countries should be taken off the EU's generalised trade preferences (GSP) list, so that more can be done to help developing countries most in need, said International Trade Committee MEPs, in a vote on plans to update the scheme. At the same time, MEPs stiffened safeguards to prevent textile imports from disrupting the EU market.

MEPs backed a European Commission plan to update the GSP scheme to reflect recent shifts in world trade patterns, by removing preferences for EU imports from countries on the World Bank's high or upper middle per capita income list (including Russia, Brazil, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar).

The changes would reduce the number of countries that enjoy preferential access to EU markets from 176 to about 80. Imports qualifying for preferences would be reduced from €60 billion in 2009 (4% of total EU imports) to about €37.7 billion.

This is the first time that Parliament has exercised its power, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, to legislate on the GSP.

"Taking the more economically-competitive countries out of the scheme creates room for a small increase in preferences for the remaining beneficiaries", argued Christofer Fjellner (European People's Party (EPP), SE), who drafted the report.

The committee also voted to extend the range of products covered by the GSP to include some raw metals (aluminium oxide, lead, cadmium and others), that are of particular value to countries (most in Africa) that would remain in the GSP scheme.

MEPs also amended the proposals to stiffen safeguards to protect the EU textile and clothing industries against very low-cost imports from third countries. Tariff preferences for these products would be removed if EU imports grew by 12.5% in a year (down from the Commission's proposal of 15%), or if imports of specific products exceed 6% of total EU imports (down from the Commission proposal of 8%)

The Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences (GSP) grants trade preferences, such as zero or reduced tariffs, for developing countries' exports to the EU, so as to help them reduce poverty and promote sustainable development and good governance. It has been in operation since 1971.

The current GSP scheme has been in effect since 2009 and expires at the end of 2013, so the new regulation has to be in place by 1 January 2014 at latest.

The committee decided to start informal three-way talks with the Council and Commission, with a view to reaching a first-reading agreement.

Eu Parliament

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