Preferential treatment

Preferential tariff treatment means that the duty levied on goods imported from outside the EU – from so-called third countries – is on some grounds lower than the general customs duty, or not levied at all.

The customs duty can be reduced based on agreements made by the EU or on unilateral concessions by the EU. The granting of preferential treatment can be limited to specific annual import quantities. Preferential tariff treatment bound to import volumes, i.e. subject to quotas, can also be based on agreements by the WTO (World Trade Organization).

The industries of Member States can also apply, through their own competent authorities and under certain conditions, for preferential tariff treatment for raw materials used in their production.

Points to consider

Most of the countries in the world are covered by the various EU systems of preferential tariff treatment. Only around 20 countries are completely outside these systems (incl. the United States, Russia, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong).


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