Australia GSP scheme
The Australian System of Tariff Preferences (ASTP) - Australia's designation for the GSP scheme - came into effect on January 1974 for an indefinite period.
Background: In 1966, Australia became the first country to introduce tariff preferences for developing countries, known as the Australian System of Tariff Preferences. The scheme consisted of a non-reciprocal preferential arrangement under which specified manufactured and semi-manufactured goods could be imported from developing countries free of duty or at reduced rates of duty. The intent of the ASTP is to support the integration of developing countries into the global trading system as a means to promote their economic growth. The ASTP includes a general principle of a margin of preference of a minimum of 5 percentage points, where the general tariff or most favored nation rate is 5 per cent or higher, for goods from beneficiary countries. Where the general tariff or most favored nation rate is less than 5 per cent, the ASTP rate is zero. In cases where a specific rate of duty applies, the ASTP rate is set at the general tariff or most favored nation rate less 5 per cent of the value of the goods. As a result of subsequent unilateral tariff reductions, the general tariff or most favored nation rate for all Australian tariffs has fallen to five per cent or less, with the exception of specific tariffs on some types of cheese and second-hand vehicles. This means that most developing country tariffs have fallen to zero. In 1986, the Government of Australia introduced a new scheme designed to be simple, easy to understand and administer, and fair. Under this new scheme, preferences were applied to all dutiable imports. In 1991, it was announced that from 1 July 1992, the preferential tariff arrangements for Hong Kong (China), the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Taiwan Province of China would be adjusted for tariff items that were phasing down.
This announcement took into account the strength of these economies and the capacity of their exporters to compete in the Australian market without the assistance of a concessional tariff. Tariffs for those economies were to remain fixed at the 1 July 1992 rate (5 per cent below the general tariff rate at that date) until the general or most favored nation rate was reduced to that level during the program of phased reductions. This would ensure that there were no rate increases for those economies. For items that already had a duty rate of 5 per cent, the products originating in those economies were to retain their current duty-free status. In February 1993, it was announced that developing country preferences would be phased out for canned food, fruit juice and dried fruit coming from all but the least developed countries and South Pacific island territories. The elimination of developing country preferences was implemented by fixing the developing country tariff rate at its pre-1 July 1993 level until the general or most favored nation rate of duty was reduced to that level. After that time, the general rate of duty would apply. There were no increases in tariff rates. Further changes to developing country preferences were announced in a white paper issued in May 1994 on employment and growth entitled “Working nation”. The changes were implemented on 1 July 1994. Developing country preferences were to be phased out or removed for all goods not covered by the announcement of February 1993, except for those coming from the least developed countries and South Pacific island territories. There were no increases in developing country tariffs. Tariff rates applicable to imports affected by this change were to remain at levels applied before 1 July 1994 until the general tariff rate was reduced to the developing country tariff level. From this time on, the general rate was to be applied. As with the changes in 1991, this announcement took into account the strength of these economies and the capacity of their exporters to compete in the Australian market without the assistance of a concessional tariff. The ASTP has undergone a number of changes since it was introduced. In 2002, Australia announced it would provide duty-free and quota-free access to all least developed countries and Timor-Leste starting in 2003. This arrangement became operational on 1 July 2003.