GSP Progress Stalls: Hearing Cancelled; Three Amendments could affect GSP

The Republicans boycotted the Senate Finance Hearing that was to begin at 3p today.  Rules require that at least one Republican attend – and none did. That forces any and all action on GSP renewal and other aspects of the trade agenda to wait until after July 4.  That more days of U.S. importers paying duties of $1.8 million daily – a difficult burden especially small and family businesses.

Three amendments were submitted by Senators Wyden and Enzi to modify the GSP program.  They have not yet been considered by the Committee. The amendments’ goal is to expand and make more transparent the standards which a country must meet in order for its products to enter the U.S. free of duty under GSP:

1.  To discourage GSP countries from discriminating against American digital goods and
digital services;

2. To include as a basis for a country’s ineligibility for GSP beneficiary status if the country engages in gross violations of human rights or fails to cooperate in international efforts to eliminate human rights violations. (Violation of human rights is not currently a criterion for eligibility – only violations of workers rights and allowing child labor and forced labor.)

3. To establish and make public benchmarks that USTR uses to determine whether a
country is meeting the established benchmarks. For the criteria in the statute that require countries to make progress toward certain goals, the USTR would be required to establish what progress is required, how it is measured, and how countries have performed annually.

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