The European Union intends to increase tariffs on developing countries including China, India and Brazil under a plan to give only the neediest nations preferential access to the world’s biggest market.
The European Commission proposed to deny faster-growing emerging economies tariff reductions granted through the Generalized System of Preferences, under which the EU imported 60 billion euros ($86 billion) of goods in 2009. That figure would fall to about 38 billion euros under the proposal to limit the trade benefits to 80 nations instead of the current 176, according to the commission, the EU’s executive arm.
The EU, battling a Greece-triggered debt crisis after emerging from a recession in 2009, says overhauling decades of trade policy for poorer countries is justified by the economic rise of such nations as China, India and Brazil. Russia and Saudi Arabia are also among the nations that would lose GSP benefits under the proposal, which needs the support of EU governments and the European Parliament.
“Global economic balances have shifted tremendously,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said today in Strasbourg, France. “If we grant tariff preferences in this competitive environment, those countries most in need must reap the most benefits.”
The planned overhaul, due to take effect by January 2014, bolsters the EU’s push to strike free-trade agreements with individual countries or groups of nations as a way around stalled global talks on expanding commerce. That’s because it gives countries denied GSP benefits an incentive to reach separate accords with the EU.
The 27-nation EU signaled the way ahead earlier this year by approving a commercial accord with South Korea that is the world’s second-largest trade deal. That agreement will take effect in July.
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