ACP exporters and EU importers discuss EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

The Public Consultation on the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), that started in April 2010, is still open until Next Monday 31st of May 2010 and contributions can be submitted until the end of Monday.

(Joyce van Genderen-Naar)

The EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a trade arrangement through which the EU provides preferential access to the EU market to 176 developing countries and territories, in the form of reduced tariffs for their goods when entering the EU market. The GSP scheme is an important element in the EU's active support for the sustainable development of developing countries.

The present GSP Regulation expires on 31 December 2011. The purpose of the present consultation exercise is to seek comments from interested parties as inputs to the Commission's work to prepare a future proposal to the Council and Parliament on a successor Regulation. The consultation is aimed at all parties with an interest in the EU GSP scheme, including stakeholders within the EU and in third countries, including beneficiaries.

The report on the Consultation which will be published by the Commission on the Trade website.

View the consultation document

The Commission also organizes specific meetings with interested parties, such as the DG Trade Civil Society Meeting organised on 26 May 2010 in Brussels to discuss the Public consultation on the next GSP regulation with the participants. EU importers need a simple, stable and predictable GSP regulation, was the message of EuroCommerce (the EU retail, wholesail and international trade representation to the EU). In its position paper EuroCommerce says that the companies attracted by the GSP are importers and retailers in the EU, who operate in a highly competitive business environment and will base their planning on the GSP only if the system meets their specific expectations, i.e. simple rules, one year predictability, legal certainty, significant product coverage, a GSP Plus that acts as a true incentive, proper & early stakeholder consultation, preferential rules of origin that work in practice. See: Click Here

ACP exporters who export their products to the EU market under the GSP and EBA stress that the complexity of the Rules of origin, non trade barriers, non tariff barriers and high EU standards make it difficult to enter the EU Market and are the main problem that preferential trade arrangements did not work and will not work. The Rules of Origin should be made more user friendly and adapt to the needs of the ACP countries.

However the Rules of origin are not addressed by the GSP Public Consultation, because there was already a Public Consultation on the Rules of Origin in 2006 and the reform is on its way according to the EC DG Trade.

What ACP (Africa, Carribean, Pacific) countries really need is the processing and distribution of their commodities and raw materials, product diversification, marketing, efficient distribution networks, transport and infrastructure.

Another concern is the artificial line between LDCs and non-LDCs. The suggestion is to add some of the LDCs to the EBA list and to apply it to custom unions in Africa. There should be one scheme (not GSP, GSP+ and EBA) with graduations according to the economic situation of the countries or objective development criteria such as the GDP per capita should be applied. In case of import share as criterion it should be a high percentage for all products.

CARIS (Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration, University of Sussex) presented its Mid Term Evaluation of the EU's GSP, a report commissioned and financed by the European Commission. In the executive Summary CARIS says in point 15. that 'there is little evidence that the EU's preference regimes have led to a diversification of exports into new products'. Furthermore in point 26. 'While there are some significant trade and output effects for a sub-set of agricultural commodities and regions (notably fruits and vegetables in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Argentina, sugar products in the Caribbean, North Africa and Sub-Sahara African EBA beneficiaries, oils and fats in North Africa), the substantial expansionary impacts of the EU GSP occur in the textile, apparel and leather goods industries within Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Cambodia and Pakistan.'

' Among the EBA regions in the model, Cambodia and Bangladesh benefit most from the EU scheme, while the EBA Sub-Saharan Africa composite region gains very little overall. ' (point 25).

'The bilateral gravity modeling exercise identified some evidence that preferences arising from the EU's free trade arrangements as well as those applied to the Cotonou countries had a positive impact on trade with the EU, rather than EBA, GSP, or GSP+ arrangements, ' according to CARIS in point 23 of the Executive Summary.

Joyce van Genderen-Naar

Caricom should reject the EC proposal for a hurriedmeeting of the Joint Council

Commentary: Timid Leadership setting back Caribbean in the world

Published on Friday, May 14, 2010

By Sir Ronald Sanders

Several commentators have lamented in recent years the seeming timidity of Caribbean leaders in not more aggressively defending and advancing the economic interests of Caribbean countries in the global community.

This apparent timidity has been evident in a number of areas including the surrender to bullying by the European Union (EU) when Caribbean governments signed up to an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which went beyond the requirements of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and in the submission to the dictation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) over the operations of the financial services sector.

These capitulations will hurt the Caribbean now and haunt the region’s economic future for some time to come. Essentially, the space for making and implementing decisions in the Caribbean’s interest is either being severely restricted or lost altogether.

This malaise is weakening the once vibrant Caribbean Community which was led by courageous men and women who were not averse to standing up to the most powerful countries and agencies in defense of matters of importance to their nations and to the region.

While they sought strategic alliances with other nations and groups of countries, such as the pact with African and Pacific countries in the original negotiations with the EU, the motivation was the furtherance of their domestic and regional interest. They recognized that each of them was stronger for the support of the others, and they made unity not only a virtue but a tool, gathering together their best brains from government, the private sector and academia to map out their strategies and to implement them.

Somewhere along the path in recent years, the region has lost its way. The resolve to act collectively in the common interest of all appears to have been pushed to one side, as governments seek individual salvation. Collective action, long a strength of CARICOM, is paid only lip service. Worse yet, the collective use of the Caribbean’s best brains in government, business, and academia has disappeared.

So, the OECS countries join Japan to vote for commercial whaling even though there is a thriving tourism whale watching industry in the region; some countries have joined the Venezuelan-initiated ALBA – often taking positions within that group before discussing it in CARICOM; and the region remains divided on the issue of diplomatic recognition of China or Taiwan.

But, above all, bold leadership has diminished in the region, and it has reduced among Caribbean people the ambition to reach for the stars; to push the envelope so as to stride out of the shadows and into the global sunlight. The region is weaker for it. And, it will become weaker still unless the leadership of the region returns to the fundamentals of collective thinking and collective action, and asserts the Caribbean’s interest boldly; not surrendering to imposed rules in which they have not had a say; refusing to be bullied; and not allowing their governments to be captured by the inducements of others.

In this connection, a statement made to me by the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, is warmly welcomed. The Prime Minister told me on the record that “Venezuela had nothing to do with St Vincent’s decision to offer itself for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-2012 term”.

Our discussion followed my commentary: “Serve the Caribbean’s interest, not some other country’s”.

Dr Gonsalves placed his government’s decision in the context of the need for small Caribbean states to be bold in order to reverse the idea that they are “little nothings”, and he was adamant that, should St Vincent and the Grenadines – one of the smallest of the Caribbean nations - succeed in this quest, its seat on the Security Council will be a CARICOM seat dedicated to advancing the region’s interest even as it deliberates, and helps to arbitrate on, global hot-spot issues.

Gonsalves looked forward to St Vincent’s UN mission being strengthened by personnel from other CARICOM countries and benefitting from advice and consultations with experienced present and former diplomats from the region. While he expected support from the ALBA countries, he declared: “We are not an ALBA candidate”. In this, the Prime Minister was prudently distancing his country from the controversial relations between Venezuela and Colombia, since it is Colombia against whom St Vincent will be competing for the single seat available to the Latin American and Caribbean group.

If, indeed, the St Vincent government is pursuing the Security Council non-permanent seat in a spirit of boldness and to assert the right of small countries to be represented and heard at the highest levels of global decision-making, then all Caribbean people should support it. When Guyana ran for - and got – the seat in 1975 as the first CARICOM state to do so, it was because the government at the time also felt that the domination by the larger Latin American states should end and the capacity of small states to contribute to thinking and solutions at the global level should be demonstrated.

None of this ignores the costs that the St Vincent government will face, and in this connection, every CARICOM government should pitch-in with money and qualified people. The quest must be a Caribbean one, for Caribbean purposes, financed by the Caribbean to assert the region’s independence.

And, as part of this resurgence of Caribbean boldness, regional governments should reject the recent offer made by the European Union to pay for Caribbean delegates to attend a Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA Joint Council, at ministerial level, on 17 May 2010 in Madrid.

This meeting was hastily proposed by the Commission of the European Union to be held on the day of the scheduled CARIFORUM-EU Summit in order “to adopt the two sets of Rules of Procedures” for the Joint Council.

But, CARICOM countries have not collectively addressed these rules. Worse yet, the European Commission (EC) has scheduled only one and a half hours to consider these complex legal rules whose application will have far reaching implications for the work of the Joint Council.

It is obvious that the EC expects the Caribbean to do nothing but rubber stamp the rules. And, it is time that regional governments call a halt to being railroaded.

They should reject the proposal for a hurried meeting of the Joint Council for which they are not prepared, and they should use the Summit to boldly tell the EU leadership of their dissatisfaction with the treatment the Caribbean has received for sugar, bananas and rum.

It is time again for collective and informed Caribbean boldness.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Reponses to:

ACP and EU Tired of EPAs

By Joyce van Genderen-Naar

The ACP and EU views expressed April 29, 2010 at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels, "EPAs in (times of) crisis” (state of play of the EPA negotiations and implementation and the EPAs in the light of the global crises), made very clear that :

1. 8 years of EPA negotiations (2002-2010) were a disaster.

2. there is a 'fatigue' in ACP countries and in EU Members States: the majority is tired of or not interested in EPAs.

3. main reason of the failure is that the European Commission has never listened and never taken serious the concerns and needs of ACP countries and has forced the ACP countries and their governments to conclude the EPAs.

4. ACP representatives spoke about unethical and unrespectful negotiations practices of EU representatives in their countries, putting pressure on ACP exporters to influence their governments to conclude the EPAs.

5. the impact of the global crises (food, financial, economic, climat change) on ACP countries makes it necessary and urgent to rethink the EPAs, and in case of the Caribbean to review and not to ratify the CF-EC-EPA.

7. Calls were made to suspend or block the EPA negotiations.

8. The way forward and other issues were discussed at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

9. The presentations will be made available at

What I noticed is that ACP state actors (representatives of Governments and embassies) and non state actors (NGOs, civil society) are together opposing the inflexibility, deadlines etc. of these negotiations. Before only NGOs were against EPAs, now ACP state and non state are in this together, trying to safeguard their economies and future.

The regional EPA negotiations were dividing ACP: Africa (4 regions), Caribbean and Pacific. But what brings them together is the need to defend their common interests: poverty eradication, sustainable development and globalisation, which are not guaranteed by the EPA and the negotiations with the EC. Due to the inflexible EPA negotiations the EC is alienating the ACP countries. ACP countries need their experts not only for EPA negotiations with the EC but also for economic cooperation with Asia and America. That was also an important message of the ACP representatives at the International EPA Seminar in Brussels.

Civil organisations contributing to the organisation of the seminar were: ActionAid, African Trade Network, APRODEV, Africa Groups Sweden, Caribbean Policy Development Centre, ENDA, Forum Syd, ICCO, Oxfam International, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Partnership for Change, SOS Faim, Third World Network Africa, Transnational Institute, Traidcraft, and 11.11.11.(Marc Maes).

The Key note address was made by Martin Khor, Director South Centre: EPAs in times of crises

Civil society perspectives on the state of the play by:

* Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation): Pacific perspectives
* Cheikh Tidiane Dieye (ENDA) : African perspectives
* Shantal Munro (Caribbean Policy Development Centre) : Caribbean perspectives

The global Food crisis and EPAs :

* Jean-Jacques Grodent (SOS Faim) : The global food crisis and the right to food.
* NN, Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA): Food crisis, EPAs and

African small holders

* Karin Ulmer (APRODEV) : Can better Safeguards help?

Rethinking EPAs:

* Emily Jones (Oxford University): Updating the EPAs in light of the crises
* Sanya Reid-Smith (Third World Network): Services, investments and trade-related issues
* Viviana Munoz (South Centre): Intellectual property rights

Why is there still only one “full” EPA (and should there be more)?

* Debate among representatives of Civil Society, the EU Commission and the ACP

Netwerkbijeenkomst bij Kraka- e Sewa te Amsterdam Zuid Oost 7 mei 2010

Van idee naar werkelijkheid !

Hoe zorg je ervoor dat het niet blijft bij het verzinnen van ideeën, maar hoe zet je een idee om in resultaat? Dat is de vraag waarop je tijdens deze netwerkbijeenkomst een antwoord kunt verwachten. Je krijgt praktische tips en tools aangereikt waarmee je direct aan de slag kunt. Aan het eind van deze mini workshop kun je een of meerdere belemmeringen benoemen en kun je de focus cirkel toepassen. Om zo ook jouw idee (misschien wel het gat in de markt?!) leven in te blazen.

Ben ik in beeld?

Ben je in staat om in slechts enkele zinnen de ander te vertellen wat je doet? En zo ja, klopt wat je vertelt met dat wat je wilt uitstralen? Komt het over bij de ander? In deze mini workshop verkennen we jouw kernboodschap en zichtbaarheid.

Wij verwelkomen jullie graag om 16.30 uur bij het verzorgingstehuis Krake-e Sewa van Cordaan in Amsterdam Zuid Oost. Om de inwendige mens te verzorgen zal er voor een Maaltijd gezorgd worden. Na afloop bestaat de gelegenheid tot netwerken onder het genot van een borrel. De bijeenkomst is gratis voor leden, voor niet leden zijn de kosten € 20,-

Wij rekenen op een grootse opkomst.

Programma 7 mei 2010:

16.30 uur ontvangst met koffie/thee/frisdrank

17.00 uur opening en welkomstwoord Maritza Russel, voorzitter EZVN

17.15 uur Ben ik in beeld?

Sandra Derksen van Jobpitch, en Heleen Verweij van Visser en Verweij Communicatie,, tevens presentatrice TV Gelderland voor het programma Buitengewoon.

18.15 Van idee naar werkelijkheid

Elsbeth van Lienden van Centipede,,

19.00 uur Buffet, Borrel en netwerken

20.30 uur Afsluiting

In verband met de catering en de beveiliging verzoeken wij u vóór woensdag 5 mei a.s te mailen of je komt onder vermelding van uw naam en contactgegevens naar

Locatie: Kraka-e-Sewa, Anton de Komplein 60,1102 DR Amsterdam Zuidoost ,Tel 020- 3123960. Bereikbaarheid; Kraka-e-Sewa is met het openbaar vervoer gemakkelijk te bereiken vanaf station Amsterdam-Bijlmer. Bij de halte stadsdeelkantoor/Anton de Komplein of de Dolingadreef/Bijlmermeerdreef stoppen de volgende bussen: 41, 44, 45, 46, 47. Met de auto is de locatie ook prima bereikbaar (A9, afslag S112 Bijlmermeer).