Generalized System of Preferences

Trade preferences play an important role in facilitating exports of developing countries to major export markets.

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), instituted in 1971 under the aegis of UNCTAD, has contributed over the years to creating an enabling trading environment for developing countries. The following 13 countries grant GSP preferences: Australia, Belarus, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America.

Challenges arise for beneficiaries in fully exploiting the market access opportunities available under these schemes, including in effectively meeting the rules of origin requirements. Following the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Decision in 2005 in which members agreed that developed countries and developing countries in a position to do so would grant duty-free and quota-free market access for exports of LDCs, improvements were made to various GSP schemes and/or new schemes for LDCs were launched. Subsequent ministerial decisions, including that taken at MC10 in Nairobi, 19 December 2015, reaffirmed the continued importance of this issue for LDCs' trade and development prospects. The provision and utilization of trade preferences is a key goal the Istanbul Program of Actions adopted at the UN LDC IV in 2013, as further reaffirmed in SDGs Goal 17.

The objective of UNCTAD's support on GSP and other preferential arrangements is to help developing countries - particularly LDCs - to increase utilization of GSP and other trade preferences and in turn promote productive capacity development and increased trade. Such support includes raising awareness and enhancing understanding among exporters and government officials in beneficiary countries of the trading opportunities available under the schemes; strengthening understanding of technical and administrative regulations and laws governing preferential market access, particularly rules of origin; and disseminating relevant information for users of GSP and other preferential schemes. Support is also provided to providers of preferences in improving their preferential schemes.

Beneficiaries of the GSP schemes

Beneficiaries of the GSP schemes

The document contains a list of beneficiaries for each of the GSP schemes currently in operation according to notifications received from UNCTAD member States.  Its part of a series of publications aimed at helping exporters, producers and government officials to utilize the trade opportunities available under the various GSP schemes.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the list, the UNCTAD secretariat would appreciate being notified of any errors.  We update the list periodically to reflect any modifications that may be made by preference-giving countries.  The terminology used in the list for the designation of the countries and territories benefiting from the GSP schemes is that of the respective preference-giving countries.

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Handbooks on the GSP schemes

Handbooks on the GSP schemes

These handbooks present the contents of the 10 GSP schemes in a user-friendly format, emphasizing how Governments and firms in beneficiary countries can make the best use of each scheme.

Users of a particular handbook are encouraged to do the following:

  • Step 1: Check the product coverage.
  • Step 2: Identify the correct GSP rate.
  • Step 3: Check the preferential margin.
  • Step 4: Check the origin criteria.
  • Step 5: Check the consignment conditions.
  • Step 6: Prepare documentary evidence.
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GSP Certificate of Origin, Form A

The claim for GSP treatment must be supported with the appropriate documentary evidence. The GSP Certificate of Origin Form A is used for this purpose.

The Form A was adopted in 1970 by the UNCTAD´s Working Group on Rules of Origin as a common certificate of origin for the purposes of the GSP (TD/B/AC.5/38).

Most recently, changes to the Form A were made:

  • In September 2013 to take into account the accession of Croatia to the European Union as well as the introduction by Iceland of unilateral duty-free and quota-free market access for imports of certain products originating in least developed countries (Notes 2013)(TD/B/GSP/FORM/4)
  • In July 2007 to take into account the European Union´s enlargement and to include the Principality of Liechtenstein, leading to a revision of the note on the Back of the form (Notes 2007) (TD/B/GSP/FORM/3)
  • In July 2005 to take into account the new GSP scheme of Turkey, leading to a revision of the note on the back of the form (Notes 2005) (TD/B/GSP/FORM/2/Rev.1)
  • In April 2004 to take into account the European Union´s enlargement, leading to a revision of the note on the back of the form (Notes 2004) (TD/B/GSP/FORM/1)

The Trade and Development Board, at its forty-first session of the Trade and Development Board, held from 18 to 20 April 2007, agreed that the old Form A with notes dated 1996, 2004 and 2005 will remain valid until existing stocks are exhausted.

Certifying Authorities

The beneficiary countries should inform the preference-giving countries, either directly or through the UNCTAD secretariat, the names and addresses of the governmental authorities issuing the GSP Certificate of Origin Form A together with specimens of stamps used by these authorities.

However, it is not required to notify the specimen of signatures or the names of persons authorized to issue Form A.

Download:

FORM A - certificate of origin (Combined declaration and certificate)
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GSP - Duty-Free and Quota-Free Market Access

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The present handbook reviews the progress made to implement the Hong Kong (China) decision until the Nairobi WTO Ministerial of 2015 and subsequent changes that individual QUAD countries have made to their schemes till 31 December 2017.

Part I focuses on the special provisions in favour of LDCs and related rules of origin, as contained in the GSP schemes of the Quad countries, namely Canada, those of the European Union Japan and the United States.

Part II focuses on the implementation of the Hong Kong (China) Ministerial decision on duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access by other developed countries and developing countries.

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