The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

25 January 2014

Ethiopia: Norway Grants Tax Exemption to Ethiopian Products

The Norwegian government has granted its Generalized System of Preference (GSP) to Ethiopian products, allowing them to enjoy tax exemption on entering the Norwegian market.

Cecilie G.Alnaes, assistant director at the Directorate of Norwegian Customs and Excise, told The Reporter that this scheme will allow Ethiopian products to join the Norwegian market without any discrimination.

She added that the scheme has no limitation period, and will continue until Ethiopia joins the level of the developed nations.

Gashaw Debebe, secretary general of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Association (ECCSA), said that the GSP scheme to grant autonomous trade preferences would help Ethiopia to eradicate poverty, and at the same time promote sustainable development by strengthening it's foreign trade.

GSP is a recognized exception from the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO) principles on "most favored nation treatment".

The scheme allows industrialized countries on an autonomous basis to grant preferential tariff treatment to products from developing countries at a lower duty rate than the rest of the world.

Norway is not part of the European Union (EU), but is a founding member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), consisting of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The total trade turnover of the two countries was only USD 58 million in 2012, and imports from Norway declined from USD 4.2 million in 2004 to USD 2.7 million in 2012, showing a negative growth rate of 35 percent.

Major exports to the Norwegian market include cut flowers, coffee, honey and sugar.

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