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The EU Delegation to Armenia invited representatives from businesses exporting to the EU, as well as those which intend to do so, and journalists to take part in an information event dedicated to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which took place on 10 November 2015.
The aim of the event was to improve the use of GSP+ in Armenia, to increase and, in particular, to expand the range of products that are being exported to the EU. The event provided detailed information on EU export opportunities to GSP+ potential beneficiaries.
Speakers at the event talked about the procedures and goals of GSP+, its trade benefits, its rules of origin and customs formalities, its practical application, and the EU export helpdesk.
ARS_7568The Deputy Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation, Jose-Maria Medina Navarro, talked about the benefits of the GSP+ for Armenia and Armenian business representatives: ‘The EU is Armenia’s largest partner and, at the same time, Armenia exports iron, silk and textiles to the EU. Armenia has the potential to access the European market more extensively and that is why we are here today. GSP+ is only able to provide to a very limited number of countries that meet certain criteria set by the EU concerning the effective implementation of the 27 major international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environment and good governance’.
ARS_7577The main speaker of the event was Alina Boiciuc, Policy Coordinator for Trade and Sustainable Development, Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) at the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission. During her presentation, Boiciuc talked about the EU GSP and GSP+ schemes, EU-Armenia trade, the use of GSP+ potential and other issues. ‘With GSP+, Armenia has access to the European market – 28 countries and more than 500 million customers. Now, when Armenian businessmen export to the EU market and not declare products under the GSP+, they pay more taxes. That is why we want to tell you more about the benefits you have’.
Andrea Scheidl, Assistant Policy Officer and Coordinator of Export Helpdesk Activities at the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission, introduced the EU export helpdesk: ‘Exporting to Europe is possible with 6 easy steps. Firstly, you have to check the customs code for your product – the results for your product will be there. Then check custom duties and rule of origin for your product, check statistics, and click on resources to find out more on product codes, chambers of commerce and customs offices in each EU country or additional information for your country. All this you can do by visiting: www.exporthelp.europa.eu’.
The EU is seeking to establish closer relations with Armenia to achieve deeper economic cooperation and integration. Despite the fact that Armenia has decided not to pursue more preferential trade relations with the EU through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, Armenia was included in the new initiative of the GSP+ regime from 1 January 2014, which means that more than 6,000 products of Armenian origin can now be imported to the EU with the preferences offered by GSP+ (zero or reduced taxes). GSP+, unlike the initial GSP, is more beneficial and flexible.
To benefit from GSP+, Armenia applied to the EU by presenting the whole package verifying compliance with these requirements. Countries that benefit from GSP+ get wider coverage of products (6,291 goods out of 9,655 under EU classifications) to export to the EU with zero or reduced customs duties.
Armenia should continue approximation of trade-related legislation and procedures to the EU and international trade requirements and standards in order to benefit more from the GSP+ and make exports to the EU more diverse.

The 14th meeting of the EU-Armenia sub-committee on trade, economic and related legal issues took place on 16 October 2015 in Yerevan.
ARS_3849The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Piotr Switalski, welcomed those present and outlined the goals on EU-Armenia cooperation: ‘Even if the new cooperation agreement will be limited with regard to trade-related issues, it will have a very beneficial role in boosting relations between the EU and Armenia. I hope that the negotiations on a new agreement will be conducted in a very constructive and speedy fashion and an agreement achieved very soon. Trade is the basis of everything and the EU pays particular attention to developing a good trade relationship with Armenia. The EU is the largest export market for Armenia, and we are ready to provide new opportunities for the country. Armenia is already benefiting from being a part of the generalised scheme of preferences plus (GSP+), and Armenian products have privileged access to European markets. As we all know, there is much more potential and I hope that Armenia will develop a good strategy for promoting its products, so that they can be competitive in the European market’.
ARS_3846Armenian Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan underlined the importance of continuous cooperation between the EU and Armenia: ‘Today we are starting discussions on very important cooperation issues. There have been several developments, one I will mention now. A couple of days ago the EU published its decision about approving a mandate to negotiate a new bilateral agreement with Armenia; we hope that we will start the negotiations before the end of the year. We have many occasions to talk about the importance of the EU GSP+, because it provides the opportunity to export Armenian products to the European market under better conditions. On 4 November we are going to have a meeting of the EU-Armenia committee here in Yerevan, where we will have the opportunity to discuss all the relevant issues. On 19-20 November our official delegation, led by the minister, plans to visit Brussels and I hope that we will sign at least two important documents’.
ARS_3844Luc Devigne, Co-chairman of the meeting, talked about the planned topics for discussions during the meeting: ‘Since Armenia decided to choose another path and to join the Eurasian Union, we need to launch the so-called scoping exercises to see what can be done taking into account Armenia’s decision. I am happy that EU member states agreed to start negotiations on a new mandate which includes trade. The EU continues cooperating with Armenia and will not punish the country for its choices. Maybe others would apply sanctions or embargoes, but it is not our policy. We continue to support Armenia’.
During the event, an overview of current trends in economic activity, foreign trade and balance of payments, monetary and exchange rate developments, the budgetary situation, cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as well as economic trends in the EU and recent EU economic policy measures, were discussed. When the sides started discussions on trade issues, the core topics were recent developments in EU-Armenia bilateral trade, including the EU GSP+ for Armenia, and the Armenian market economy status. During the meeting, investment and competition issues and public finance management reforms were also explored.