EU Moves to Reinstate Myanmar’s Preferential Trade Status

EU should reinstate Myanmar’s duty and quota free access to the EU market, said the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on Thursday. In a statement on its website, the European Parliament (EP) said the recommendation reflects the European Commission’s proposal to support Myanmar in its reforms, in particular its efforts to eradicate forced labor. The reinstatement of trade preferences, backed by the Trade Committee by 28 notes to 2, with no abstentions, but yet to be adopted by the full House and approved by member states, will give Myanmar duty and quota free access to the EU market for all its exports excepts arms. This could help raise Myanmar’s exports by 30 percent, estimates the European Commission.

“Myanmar is eligible for free market access under the EU’s Generalized System for Preferences (GSP) for least-developed countries, but since 1997 the EU had been withholding these benefits because of reports of the ‘routine and widespread practice of forced labor’. The proposal to reinstate preferences follows reports that the use of forced labor in Myanmar has ceased to be ‘serious and systematic’, the statement said.

While trade MEPs share the Commissions’s view that the legal requirements are met for preferences to be reinstated, there are some concerns.