November 1, 2014, marked the 15-month anniversary of the lapse in Congressional authorization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). This lapse is now the longest in the 38-year history of the GSP – a fact costing U.S. importers approximately $1.9 million every day ($864 million since the July 31, 2013, expiration), and that has led to canceled orders from thousands of businesses in GSP countries.
The 24 geographically and economically diverse countries of Alliance believe that the final months of the 113th Congress are an opportune time for Congress to put GSP on its “must-do” lists, either by attaching GSP renewal to other moving bills, or by passing S.1331 and H.R. 2709.
The urgency of the situation – job losses and business closures in importing and supplying nations, especially among small and medium-sized businesses – is clear. The Alliance cites an important example. Maria Roseni Alvero, Commercial Counselor in the Philippines Embassy, pointed out that, “In the case of Philippine coconut farmers in the Typhoon Haiyan-affected areas, they have become even more reliant on GSP so that they can export competitively to the U.S. market. Resuming operation of GSP is a key factor to aid in their recovery from the devastation caused by the Super Typhoon.”
The Kyrgyz Republic and Lebanon recently joined the Alliance to request GSP renewal. In 2013, 61% of Lebanon’s exports to the U.S. market entered under GSP. Lebanese businesses have been especially affected since the GSP lapse. Lebanon’s exports entering under GSP dropped 32% in 2014 through September, as compared to a year earlier. Examples are Lebanon’s jewelry exports, down 76%, and exports of building stone, nuts, gherkins, and olive oil. Items exported in small amounts by Lebanon’s farmers, artisans, and other businesses have decreased by half. The GSP lapse creates an urgent situation for the 122 GSP countries and, especially, for 54 nations that benefit from no other U.S. preference program.
GSP benefits more than 3.8 billion people living in two-thirds of the world’s economies. When GSP is in operation, U.S. companies can import up to 5,000 products duty-free, such as raw materials, intermediary goods, and consumer-ready items from suppliers in 122 emerging markets. Information on the Alliance and GSP is available at www.allianceforgsp.org Media contacts are Romulo Cabeza, Sandler Trade LLC, at firstname.lastname@example.org; and Marideth Sandler at email@example.com or at 202.492.7473 (cell).