As part of its ongoing mandate, since 1976 UNCTAD has collected data on the utilization rates of trade preferences under the Generalized System of Trade Preferences (GSP). The proliferation of Free Trade Areas (FTAs) has placed increased attention by business on the utilization of such trade agreements.
For policy makers, the low utilization rates of existing trade preferences provide a signal that the design of such trade preferences may not be appropriate since business is unable to effectively use the FTAs that Governments have negotiated. For business the multiplication of compliance with administrative requirements under different rules of origin (RoO) under each FTA represents a significant cost.
At present, UNCTAD's database is focusing on unilateral trade preferences granted through the GSP. It is crucial to pursue this effort by improving the collection of data and to extend the collection of data to cover Preferential Trade Arrangements (PTAs) in Africa and Asia.
Constructing a comprehensive, complete and reliable database on trade preferences utilization would provide a useful monitoring system to measure the effectiveness such arrangements for Policy makers, businesses, research institutions and academia.
Establish a comprehensive, complete and reliable database on the utilization of the trade preferences granted to and among African and Asian countries and LDCs through the Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) initiative, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the GSP schemes, and other regional FTAs including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).