May 22, 1991

CALL TO EXTEND, STRENGTHEN AND IMPROVE GSP SCHEMES.

GENEVA, MAY 18 (TWN) The UNCTAD Special Committee on Preferences has called upon preference-giving countries to "expand, strengthen and improve" their schemes under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

The Committees call in an unanimously adopted resolution came Friday, at the end of annual review of the implementation of GSP.

The compromise text adopted was put forward by the Chairman, Carlos Matute of Honduras following negotiations on a draft resolution introduced by the Group of 77.

The resolution affirms the importance of the principles and objectives of the GSP and sees UNCTAD-VIII as an opportunity for further consideration of the system.

Some 70 countries attended the meeting, which began on May 10.

Besides the discussions and general review in the committee, the meeting also enabled more than loo informal bilateral and plurilateral consultations between the preference-giving countries and beneficiaries under the individual GSP schemes.

The GSP is now in its second decade and many of the preference-giving countries are reviewing their schemes and for their extension into the 1990s.Japan has already extended its scheme till 2000 and Norway and Sweden have said their schemes are for indefinite periods.

In welcoming these, and the expressed intention of others to continue their schemes, the Special Committee called upon the preference-giving countries ton consider comprehensive product coverage and grant of deeper tariff cuts aimed at duty-free treatment under GSP for products of export interest to the Third World.They have also been urged to reduce a priori limitations and restrictions on their preferential imports so as to enhance stability and predictability to their schemes.

On the issue of "safeguard measures" in the context of GSP, the resolution has said that safeguard measures, if taken, should be based on "the principles of exceptionality, temporariness and consultative procedures" in accordance with the UNCTAD decisions for establishment of GSP and should be based on "objective criteria and follow transparent procedures".The Committee recognised that non-tariff measures linked to GSP could "significant reduce" the benefits of the GSP schemes and expressed "concern at the incidence of NTMs in this regard".The resolution underscored the significance of improving the rules of origin for increased utilisation of the GSP schemes and recommended to preference-giving countries to continue consider "simplification and improvement" of their rules of origin both in promoting two-way trade between industrialised and third world countries through incorporation of preference-giving country content in the rules of origin.

The Committee also noted the rule that grant of regional and sub-regional cumulation facilities under GSP could play in furthering economic cooperation among developing countries.

The Committee also urged the preference-giving countries to fully implement the relevant provisions of the Paris Declaration and Programme of Action in respect of GSP measures to favour LDCs.The resolution also urged the continuation and strengthening of technical cooperation as a complement to efforts by Third World countries to better utilised the GSP.For the next session of the Committee, the UNCTAD secretariat was asked to take account of "the recent developments including in the Uruguay Round affecting market access of developing countries in areas of export interest to them".