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Countries and regions Brussels, 9 December 2011

Cape Verde secures access to EU markets and boosts its development

This page describes past events and is no longer updated.

The EU has today granted "GSP+" status to the Western African nation of Cape Verde. Under this trade scheme, which grants preferential access to the EU market when certain conditions of good governance are fulfilled, +, Cape Verde will continue to enjoy generous preferential access to the EU after its graduation from the "Everything But Arms" (EBA) initiative.

"Cape Verde is today the first African nation to sign up to GSP+," says EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "This is excellent news for the country's sustainable path to development and I am delighted that an EU trade instrument is supporting this process."

EBA and GSP+ are sub-schemes of the EU's "Generalised System of Preferences", which gives preferences for exports from 176 developing countries and territories.

As a "Least Developed Country" (LDC), Cape Verde has enjoyed full, duty free – quota free access to EU markets (except for arms and ammunitions) through EBA which is the most generous preferential scheme for LDCs in the world. The EU champions the introduction of equally generous schemes for LDCs by other developed and emerging economies.

Cape Verde graduated from the "Least Developed Country" (LDC) UN status in 2008 and was granted a three-year transition period which expires on 31 December 2011 in order to allow market operators to adjust to a new tariff regime. In October 2011, Cape Verde applied for benefits under GSP+, a special incentive arrangement which provides enhanced access to EU markets to countries that commit to effectively implement 27 core international Conventions on the respect of human and labour rights, the environment and good governance. The European Commission today confirmed that Cape Verde fulfils the provisions to enjoy preferential access under GSP+.

In parallel, Cape Verde continues to be part of negotiations for a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and West Africa, involving also Benin, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritania. This Economic Partnership Agreement would offer much broader trade and development prospects because it extends to areas beyond trade in goods, including services and investment which are quickly becoming the engine of growth of this promising small island economy.

Background

Since 1971, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has allowed developing countries to pay lower import tariffs on some or all of their exports to the EU.

The current GSP scheme covers three elements:

  • the general GSP arrangement which provides import tariff reductions for 176 developing countries and territories.
  •  the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (known as GSP+). This scheme offers additional preferences to support vulnerable developing countries in their ratification and implementation of international conventions in the field of human and labour rights, sustainable development and good economic governance. With Cape Verde, the current GSP+ scheme now covers 16 beneficiaries .
  • the Everything But Arms arrangement which provides for complete access (duty-free and quota-free) to the EU market except for arms and armaments for the 49 Least-Developed Countries as defined by the United Nations.
     

The current GSP scheme will expire on 31 December 2013 at the latest. On 10 May 2011, the Commission presented a proposal to review the system, which is now being discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers and that should enter into force on 1 January 2014 at the latest. Under the Commission proposal, additional export opportunities are provided to those countries most in need, in particular LDCs. In addition, it has been proposed to enhance the attractiveness of GSP+, while ensuring better compliance with the 27 Conventions via strengthened monitoring and withdrawal provisions.
 

EU-Cape Verde trade in facts and figures

The EU is Cape Verde's main export (94%) and import (78%) partner. In 2010, Cape Verde exported €36 million worth of (mainly agro-food) goods to the EU, including fisheries, meat, sugar, cocoa, coffee, tea – but also textiles. Cape Verde is also heavily relying on imports from the EU (€493 million in 2010, mainly (77%) industrial products). The fastest growing economic sector in Cape Verde is tourism, but services are not covered by the GSP system and are discussed in the EPA framework instead.

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