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European Union Trade Policy and the Poor. Towards Improving the Poverty Impact of the GSP in Latin America


Freres , Christian and Mold, Andrew (2004) European Union Trade Policy and the Poor. Towards Improving the Poverty Impact of the GSP in Latin America. [ Working Papers; nº 02, 2004, ]


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The purpose of this policy paper is to analyse and propose ideas about how the European Union could have a greater impact on reducing poverty in Latin America through its trade policy, in conjunction with other policy instruments. To do this, the authors analyze the experience of the EU’s Generalized System of Preference (GSP), a scheme aimed to help poor countries adapt to the international trading system. Overall, this regime has not proven effective for this purpose nor is there any evidence that it has had a significantly positive impact on reducing poverty in developing countries in general or in Latin America. This paper starts with an overview of the context affecting this issue, including a review of the literature on the link between trade and poverty, an analysis of the contemporary situation in Latin America, focusing on poverty and inequality, reasons why it is important to look at the GSP presently, this region’s trade and development experience and overall ties between the EU and Latin America. The second section of the paper begins with a review of EU trade policy towards developing countries, stressing the GSP. Following that, it analyzes how the Latin American countries have used the GSP, with what results and what obstacles. This general treatment is complemented by two case studies, Bolivia and Costa Rica, which illustrate the problems more specifically. The final chapter provides conclusions and policy recommendations that should be taken into consideration in the current process of reform of the GSP.

Resumen (otros idiomas)

El objetivo de este documento de trabajo es analizar y proponer ideas sobre cómo la Unión Europea podría tener un mayor impacto sobre la reducción de la pobreza en América Latina a través de su política comercial, junto con otros instrumentos de política. Para hacer esto, los autores analizan la experiencia del Sistema Generalizado de Preferencias (SGP) de la UE, un esquema que tiene la intención de ayudar a los países pobres a adaptarse al sistema internacional de comercio. En general, este régimen no ha sido eficaz para este fin ni existe evidencia de que haya tenido un impacto significativo y positivo en la reducción de la pobreza ni en todos los países en desarrollo ni en América Latina en particular. Este estudio empieza con una visión general del contexto alrededor del tema, incluyendo una revisión de la literatura sobre el vínculo entre el comercio y la pobreza, un análisis de la situación actual en América Latina orientado hacia la pobreza y la desigualdad, las razones por las cuales es importante estudiar al SGP actualmente, la experiencia comercial y de desarrollo de esta región, y los lazos generales entre la UE y América Latina. La segunda sección del texto comienza con un repaso de la política comercial de la UE hacia los países en desarrollo, enfocado en el SGP. A continuación se analiza como los países latinoamericanos han utilizado el SGP, con qué resultados y obstáculos. Se complementa este tratamiento general con dos estudios de caso, Bolivia y Costa Rica, que ilustran los problemas con mayor detalle. El capítulo final incluye conclusiones y recomendaciones de política que deben tomarse en cuenta en el actual proceso de reforma del SGP.

Item Type:Working Paper or Technical Report
Additional Information:

This working paper results from research carried out by the Association for Research and Study of Iberoamerican
Issues/AIETI (, under the direction of Christian Freres, former Research Director of AIETI, with funding
provided by the European Community Poverty Reduction Effectiveness Programme/EC-PREP (
Project Nº. EP/R03/07), an initiative of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). The
opinions expressed here do not reflect the official positions of EC-PREP, DFID, AIETI nor of ICEI; they are the sole responsibility of the authors.
Christian Freres es Investigador Asociado en el Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales, sigue colaborando
con AIETI, y se desempeña como asesor en la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, y Andrew Mold es Asesor
de la Comisión Económica de Naciones Unidas para África (Dar es Salaam, Etiopia) y co-editor de la revista European
Journal of Development Research.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Reducing poverty in Latin America, Trade policy, EU’s Generalized System of Preference (GSP), EU trade policy.
Subjects:Social sciences > Political science > International relations
Social sciences > Economics > Economic cooperation
Social sciences > Economics > Commerce
Series Name:Working Papers
ID Code:10633

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Deposited On:10 May 2010 12:11
Last Modified:27 Apr 2016 08:55

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