Since January 1 of this year, U.S. imports from 131 countries – 1.3 billion people – are no longer entering the U.S. market duty-free. All imports into the U.S. are up by nearly 20 percent – but those that are now subject to duties – have dropped by nearly 20 percent. The impacts on developing-country exporters and U.S. importers are real and visceral.
Since 1976, Congress has approved thousands of products from two-thirds of the world’s countries to enter the U.S. market without paying duties. This is called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which the U.S. and 40 other countries offer the developing world. But – GSP’s authorization in the U.S. expired on December 31, 2010. Congress has not acted to renew it – and the outlook for action soon is very cloudy.
At the same time, U.S. importers – many of which are small, family-owned businesses – have paid more than $1.8 million EACH DAY since January 1 in reinstituted tariffs. No wonder developing-country producers are losing out to lower-cost producers in this volatile economy.
In early May, the newly formed Coalition of GSP Countries sent the linked letter to Hill leadership requesting action and began a series of briefing to tell how GSP has benefited their people and its uncertain future is wreaking havoc.