The Utilisation of Trade Preferences for Developing Countries in the Agri-food Sector
Both the European Union and the United States grant non-reciprocal preferences to developing countries under the Generalised System of Preferences as well as under several regional schemes. The benefits of these preferences have recently been questioned. Several authors have pointed out the under-utilisation of these preferences due to the constraints attached. There have been claims that rules of origin requirements and administrative costs, as well as uncertainty on eventual eligibility, have deterred exporters from using preferential regimes. We calculate various indicators of the utilisation of preferences in the agricultural, food and fisheries sector. We conclude that only a very small proportion of the imports eligible for these preferences is actually exported outside a preferential regime. The rate of utilisation is therefore high. However, the flow of imports from the poorest countries remains very limited in spite of rather generous tariff preferences, which leads to questions over the overall impact of the preferential agreements. In addition, preferential regimes overlap, and in such cases some regimes are systematically preferred to others. We use econometric estimates of the (latent) cost of using a given preference to explain why particular regimes are used. We focus on possible explanations, such as the cumulation rules (that restrict the use of materials originating from other countries), fixed administrative costs and differences in the preferential margin. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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Volume (Year): 58 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
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