Juan C. Sánchez Arnau

The generalised system of preferences and the World Trade Organisation is the result of a detailed research on the GSP, one of the few instruments adopted by the industrialised countries to promote exports from the developing world.

The future of the GSP lies in the forthcoming multilateral trade negotiations. By launching the new round of negotiations on a further reduction of import duties, the Ministerial Declaration adopted in Doha reduces the scope of the preferential treatment but at the same time, it emphasises that the WTO seeks to place the needs and interests of the developing countries “at the heart of the Work Programme”.

Although the Ministerial Declaration makes no specific reference to the GSP or to “preferential treatment”, it specifically refers to all the legal elements that permit such preferences, thus opening the door to the utilisation of the GSP or similar measures as part of the final results of the new round.

The GSP was also used as a model to develop a number of similar preferential systems, such as the EU-Andean countries programme, the US Caribbean Basin Initiative and the Canadian Trade and Investment Caribbean Programme and more recently the US African Growth and Opportunity Act. The GSP is also called upon to play an important role in the restructuring of the EU agreement with the African, Caribbean and Asian countries (the ACPs).

This book gives an analysis on how the GSP was implemented and applied throughout thirty years and the impact that it has had on the exports and industrialisation processes of the beneficiary developing countries.

It has been divided into three parts:

-           An analysis of the preferential trade theory including the presentation and discussion of a model representing this type of trade and the role of the effective protection theory in order to understand its effects.

-           The structure of protection in the industrialised countries, in the light of the objectives of the GSP and the above-mentioned theoretical model, thus bringing the initial theoretical analysis in line with the reality of the problems associated with international trade.

-           An overall picture of the changes in the world economy and the trade policy of the industrialised countries since the GSP was put into effect. The changes brought about in the structure of international trade during that same period.

-           A detailed analysis of the preferential schemes of the different industrialised countries and the reasons that help to explain why preferential treatment has had such a limited impact on the beneficiary countries’ exports.


The future of the GSP in the current trend of significant reductions in customs tariffs for industrial products.

The author, currently Argentina's Ambassador to Russia, was closely associated with the negotiations for the adoption of the GSP as a representative of his country to UNCTAD and GATT and followed its implementation for many years in these organisations. He took advantage of this experience to choice this subject for a PhD thesis which recently received a mention “magna cum laude” in the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.


'It is the best empirical thesis I have ever includes an analysis of international trade that is extremely far-reaching.'

Prof. Heinrich Borstis,

Universities of London and Fribourg

'This book is of an undoubted high quality. It is based on particularly solid sources.'

Prof. Dr. Gaston Gaudard,

Director of the Centre de Recherches en Economie de l’espace of the University of Fribourg

ISBN 10: 1 874698 98 8

ISBN 13: 978 1 874698 98 2

• Hardback • 300pp • 2002 • £75.00