Shaping the UK’s GSP Scheme: Recommendations for Transformative Change

The Project at A Glance

Women are particularly disadvantaged when trading, through non-tariff measures (NTMs), with these barriers representing the main challenge. Technical barriers to trade (TBTs) and sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures can be particularly burdensome for women-owned firms, owing to the wider social inequalities affecting access to education, training, and literacy, which are required to better understand and navigate trade regulations. Women cross-border traders are also particularly affected by the lack of information and transparency around customs procedures.

International Economics (IEC) supported the UK Department for International Development in preparing a study on the existing General Schemes of Preference (GSP), reviewing evidence and case studies to evaluate the impact of preferential trade arrangements on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment (WEE).

What We Found

The project’s overall objective was to provide qualitative information on how donor GSP schemes promote or hinder women’s economic empowerment and gender equality, enabling policy decisions to be taken on the UK’s future GSP scheme and its monitoring, while also informing any associated programming designed to support implementation of the scheme and/or further research programming in this field.

Our Strategy and Impact

The team at International Economics focused on key questions such as how unilateral trade preferences can be potential levers for transformative impacts on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, defining the criteria to identify sectors/countries more likely to benefit women and what impact- and outcome-level indicators should be used to measure the effect of EU/UK GSP on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment as the UK adopts an independent scheme. The final report included recommendations on the criteria, indicators, and impact pathways for the UK’s future GSP system post-Brexit as well as future Aid-for-Trade programmes.

Our Core Solutions

The lessons learnt, and feedback mechanism we implement in our monitoring and evaluation processes support institutional strengthening and re-alignment of resources to ensure project sustainability and maximum impact. The evaluation exercise revises the monitoring indicators of institutions and makes suggestions for reinforcing these, improving the communication of results, and ensuring adaptation of projects in line with outcomes.

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