The “Everything but Arms”(EBA) scheme is a permanent arrangement covering Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) as classified by the United Nations. This arrangement enables duty-free and quota-free access for all products (7200 products in total) originating in LDC’s except for arms and ammunition. Different from the Standard GSP and GSP+, LDC’s are not excluded from the scheme if they benefit from other preferential arrangements.
Afghanistan is a landlocked economy with mountainous terrain and one of the poorest countries in the world. Years of conflict and the persisting political instability have left the economy highly dependent on international aid.
Afghanistan's main export commodities originate from the agricultural sector and include dried grapes, figs, almonds, pistachios, and other nuts, saffron and onions. Afghanistan also exports lac and precious/semi-precious stones.
Afghanistan's most important trading partners are neighbouring Pakistan, Iran, and China. India is the most important export market, while most imports originate from Iran, China, and Pakistan.
Agriculture plays traditionally an important role for the Afghan economy, it employs the majority of the population and supplies the manufacturing sector with important inputs, such as raw cotton. The cotton textile industry is among the most important industrial sectors, together with cement, sugar, vegetable oil, soap, and shoes.
About 30% of overall imports from Afghanistan make use of EBA preferences. The preference utilisation rate, which represents the ratio of preferential imports to GSP eligible imports, currently stands at 76%.
Total trade with the EU summed up to € 325 million in 2019. With a share of 1.9%, the EU only plays a minor role in Afghanistan's trade relations.
More than one third of Afghanistan's exports to the EU are eligible for EBA preferences.
Afghanistan currently has a preference utilisation rate of 75.9%
As a beneficiary of the EBA scheme, Afghanistan's preferential access to the EU market is not bound to the ratification of international conventions. Nonetheless, Afghanistan has a good level of ratification of international conventions. The country has ratified all 7 fundamental conventions on human rights and 5 of the 8 core conventions on labour standards. In addition, Afghanistan 8 conventions on environmental protection and 4 good governance conventions.
Throughout the period 2014-2020, the EU supported Afghanistan with a budget of €1.4 billion, which madeAfghanistan the largest recipient of bilateral development aid among all GSP beneficiaries. Focal areas included sustainable economic development, poverty reduction, governance, peace and security. More particularly the EU supported Afghanistan to foster small and medium enterprises, promote rural development, improve the quality of basic social services, enhance the quality of the health sector, increase domestic accountability, and improve the effectiveness of institutions.