In response to a request by the Government of Tajikistan to prepare a possible accession to the European Union (EU)'s Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development (GSP+), the EU on February 11-13, 2019 deployed a joint technical mission from the European Commission Directorate General for Trade and the European External Action Service in Brussels to Dushanbe.

According to the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, the purpose of this mission was to engage in initial discussions with key stakeholders of the Tajik government on the process and specific benefits for Tajikistan with regard to GSP+.  Agriculture, climate change, water and energy as well as sustainable development, export promotion, tax tariffs and rule of law constituted important areas of discussion.  The pre-application phase for GSP+ should be seen in the context of the further strengthening of EU-Tajikistan relations.  A successful application for GSP+ would translate into a zero tariff for Tajik exports to the EU for more than 6600 goods.

The GSP+ is an arrangement under the EU's Generalized Scheme of Preferences (‘GSP’) for lower-middle income countries. It offers additional trade incentives to partner countries in support of the effective implementation of core international conventions on environmental protection, good governance, labor and human rights.  Kyrgyzstan is one among 8 countries currently benefitting from GSP+, while Tajikistan has signaled its strong interest in joining GSP+ and willingness to work towards a formal application.

Composed of 28 Member Nations, the European Union is the world’s largest aid donor.  Tajikistan receives the main share of EU's bilateral assistance to Central Asia: €251 million for 2014-2020.  During this period, the development cooperation between the EU and Tajikistan covers three key sectors: education - focusing on secondary general education and TVET, health – focusing on Primary Healthcare and Health Financing, and rural development - including support to agrarian reform, rural entrepreneurship, irrigation and water sector reform, as well as promoting natural resources management.  The EU also supports reforms of the country's governance systems, trade policies and Public Finance Management.

Tajikistan also receives regional and thematic assistance in areas like border management, drug control, education, democracy and human rights, non-State actors, energy, transport, SME development, peace and stability, and water/environment/nuclear safety.  The EU has been active in Tajikistan since 1992 and provides approximately EUR 35 million annually in development assistance in grants.