Sandler Trade LLC featured in Go Associados’ Executive Report

Sandler Trade LLC was featured in the March 10 edition of Go Associados’s [1] weekly Executive Report. For several months, the rumors in the Brazilian and Brazilian-American business community was that Brazil would graduate from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in the near future. This pessimism led many Brazilian firms to question GSP as a viable source of cost savings in the short term. While the concerns are valid, we disagree, and when Go Associados approached Sandler Trade LLC about weighing on these concerns, we were glad to contribute our analysis.

Brazil graduated from the European GSP in 2014, and the lapse in GSP on July 31, 2013 provided few assurances that the U.S. GSP would be a reliable source for future cost savings. This pessimistic view, however, is not in sync with the statutory guidelines of the U.S. GSP. With Sandler Trade LLC’s years of experience with GSP, our firm decided to provide concrete evidence for Brazilian exporters to consider GSP an important source for cost savings in the near future.

By statute, the President should remove countries that have a gross national income (GNI) per capita that exceeds the World Bank’s high-income[2] threshold.[3] Sandler Trade LLC analyzed Brazil’s GNI per capita to predict when Brazilian exporters and their U.S. customers should consider Brazilian GSP graduation a series possibility. Our firm found that the Brazilian exporters and their U.S. customers have over a decade before the income threshold is exceeded, even assuming rapid Brazilian economic growth.[4] In addition to a quantitative analysis, Sandler Trade LLC provided readers an overview of the political difficulties of changing the standards for GSP graduation, an especially pressing concern during the program’s lapse.

GSP eligibility remains an important question for emerging economies that are approaching the high-income threshold. These countries still rely on duty-free treatment to maintain competitiveness vis-à-vis low-cost producers and countries with bilateral free-trade agreements with the United States. If you have any questions about GSP country graduation, the latest lapse in GSP, or strategies for U.S. importers during a lapse in GSP, please contact us.


[2] The World Bank’s GNI per capita high-income threshold was $12,615 for 2012. The threshold increases every year by 3%.

[3] To learn more about the differences between GNI per capita calculation methodologies, visit the World Bank website at

[4] Sandler Trade LLC assumed sustained economic growth for over a decade. This is an assumption that could very likely not be true, considering the unpredictability of the world economy. We chose this assumption in order to highlight how, even in the best-case scenario for the Brazilian economy, Brazil still has many years before graduation from the U.S. GSP.
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Inside U.S. Trade Looks to Alliance of GSP Countries and GSP Coalition of Importers about GSP Renewal

Courtesy of Inside U.S. Trade

Businesses and Countries Hope Sen. Wyden May Break GSP Deadlock, Urge Speedy Renewal

More than 450 business groups and companies urged members of Congress in a letter last week to renew the expired Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program immediately and have been following up with congressional offices this week, amid signs that the program’s most likely vehicle – Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – is moving slowly given the change of chairmen in the Senate Finance Committee.

GSP supporters are pinning their hopes on Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) as incoming chairman of the Finance Committee to find a way to overcome the objections of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that have stalled the bill. Coburn objects to financing the GSP by shifting the timing of corporate tax payments in a way that would meet the letter of the law requiring funding offsets for the tariff revenue lost through GSP.

“Sen. Wyden has seemed to be a real consensus builder,” said Marideth Sandler, facilitator for the Alliance for GSP. “So we would like to work with him to try to work with Coburn and others to try and overcome the funding objections.”

Separately, another GSP supporter said that speedy renewal of the program is something business beneficiaries want to raise with Wyden, who he noted has never opposed GSP in the past. But the source acknowledged that it was uncertain if this effort would succeed. “With all of the changes taking place, it is hard to really nail down anything,” he said.

Sandler said the alliance would be reaching out to Wyden in the next seven to 10 days, depending on when current Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is confirmed as ambassador to China. She stressed the importance of reopening these conversations, given that there are not really other potential vehicles other than TPA. Baucus’ nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 4.

Wyden is also expected to change a pending TPA bill developed by Baucus, Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). That process will take time, sources acknowledged. “It is becoming too expensive and too costly in terms of company impacts to wait for TPA,” Sandler said.

This message was backed up in the letter from a large coalition of companies and business groups.

“Over the past five and a half months, American companies like ours – and our members – have paid nearly $2 million per day in higher taxes while waiting for Congress to renew the program,” according to the letter. “The 463 signatories on this letter are writing with a simple message: We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

The letter calls on members of Congress to pass a retroactive renewal bill immediately. “We look forward to working with you to pass this legislation as soon as possible,” it concludes.

The letter is signed by groups such as the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Coalition for GSP, Consumer Electronics Association, Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, National Foreign Trade Council, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as more than 400 companies organized by state.

Sandler also said that it was important for the Obama administration to take a stronger role in helping to facilitate such discussions, noting that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been focused on other trade initiatives like TPA and the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

“There is a proactive stance that the administration could be taking to help resolve this impasse as well,” she said. “This is 128 or so countries, who are major strategic partners of the United States, who have helped in the war on terror, and they feel that there needs to be a stronger … proactive effort and understanding by the administration that GSP needs to be renewed as quickly as possible.”

Ahead of the program’s expiration on July 31, 2013, supporters attempted to move GSP under unanimous consent in the Senate. But that effort failed when Coburn objected to funding offsets in the bill and failed to reach a deal with Senate Finance Committee leaders over an alternative way to pay for it.

Coburn is leaving the Senate after this Congress, which another GSP source said could serve as an opening for GSP renewal if TPA does not move this year. But a GSP supporter said that efforts are focused on trying to ensure renewal as soon as possible, rather than in 11 months.

The letter, publicly released on Jan. 30 but dated Jan. 27, is signed by more than 450 companies and business groups and does not explicitly mention TPA, also known as fast track. The GSP supporter noted that the letter was sent two days before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he is not interested in bringing a fast-track bill to the Senate floor anytime soon.

Leaders of the trade committees have not made a decision on what items they would be willing to package with a TPA bill, though staff has said in the past that any additions must increase the support for the bill.

The GSP supporter said that the program would be a prime candidate for inclusion in a TPA package. “It does have broad support,” he said. “It has struggled, like anything, to get unanimous consent, but there isn’t substantive opposition to GSP. Therefore, it’s something that we can say is a no-brainer to include.”

Another GSP source agreed, saying that GSP was unlikely to buy votes, but that no one would likely oppose TPA over the program either.

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Concerned about Future Retroactive GSP Payments? Ask Sandler Trade LLC!

Are you worried about not getting your retroactive duty payments when GSP is reauthorized? Are you not sure how to guarantee repayment of duties? You have come to the right place!

Sandler Trade recently offered a well-received Webinar called “GSP Expiration and Prospects for Renewal: What to Know and Do While Awaiting Congressional Action.” This webinar covered the Generalized System of Preferences Program (GSP) and:

  • Legislative vehicles for GSP renewal.
  • What businesses can do to advocate for quicker renewal.
  • What importers should do to help ensure timely reimbursement when GSP is renewed retroactively.
  • Past GSP expirations and importers’ problems with getting duties repaid.

Dan Anthony of the Coalition for GSP ( also spoke about the importer coalition’s efforts to advocate for GSP Renewal. This effort mirrors Sandler Trade LLC’s Alliance for GSP Countries’ ( educational effort with senior trade and other Congressional staff in Congress. The Alliance and the Coalition for GSP have been coordinating their efforts since the Alliance’s inception in order to bring more awareness domestically as well as internationally on the importance of GSP.

According to the Coalition of GSP, U.S. companies pay more than $2 million daily in unexpected duties. The bill grows larger and more costly every day GSP remains expired. U.S. businesses in California, New Jersey, and Texas have paid $16.2 million, $10.3 million, and $9.7 million, respectively, over a two-month period.

The lack of GSP renewal is hitting U.S. businesses as well as GSP country suppliers. New exporters to the U.S. market that were doing well when their products were entering under GSP have been losing their customers since GSP expiration. In addition, companies exporting less than $100,000 annually have been adversely affected more than larger exporters.

In addition, a Georgia importer called Sandler Trade LLC recently to say that it will have to change sourcing countries because the company can no longer afford to pay the duties levied on its products. This will hurt both the importer as well as the small business in the GSP beneficiary country that will lose a customer.

If you or your company is interested in learning more about how to ensure the refund of duties paid, please contact Yasmine Rouaï at

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Sandler Trade LLC and the 22 member Country Alliance Fight on for GSP Renewal

Sandler Trade LLC and the Alliance of GSP Countries continue to fight for quick renewal of GSP. The program remains lapsed despite bicameral and bi-partisan support. Please see below a press release issued by the Alliance.



December 9, 2013


GSP Countries Urge Reauthorization of GSP  

The 22-member Alliance of GSP Countries has renewed its efforts to urge Members of Congress to reauthorize GSP as soon as possible.  The Alliance greatly appreciates the bicameral, bipartisan effort put forward by House and Senate trade leadership to renew GSP prior to its expiration on July 31, 2013. Though unsuccessful, the efforts of the trade leadership point to GSP’s overwhelming popularity among Congress, U.S. businesses, and consumers.

Time is of the essence; U.S. companies have paid $175 million in unanticipated duties just in the last three months. Suppliers are impacted, too. Of the 22 Alliance members, more than half have experienced significant decreases in U.S. imports under GSP. The smallest or most remote countries that have experienced the largest declines, including Mongolia (97.3%), Macedonia (56.7%), Fiji (23.1%), and Nepal (9.1%).

The Alliance strongly urges Congress to double its efforts to renew the program as quickly as possible. It is time to reinstate duty-treatment of GSP-eligible products coming from developing countries – 70% of which are used as inputs for further manufacturing by U.S. companies.

During the three months that GSP has not been in effect, imports from developing countries have dropped overall by 5.4%. Alliance countries’ small and medium-sized businesses are losing hard-won U.S. market niches to non-GSP low-cost producers. Prior periods of GSP expirations have shown that, even after retroactive renewal, U.S. import levels do not recover so many of these businesses do not survive. Examples of products that are facing high tariffs include telescopic sights from the Philippines (14.9%); fashion jewelry from Sri Lanka (11%), plywood from Indonesia (8%); building stone from Brazil (6.5%); pesticides from India (6.5%); and prepared foods from Thailand (6.4%).

U.S. companies pay more than $2 million daily in unexpected duties. The bill grows larger and more costly every day GSP remains expired. U.S. businesses in California, New Jersey, and Texas have paid $16.2 million, $10.3 million, and $9.7 million, respectively, in the last two months.

The geographically and economically diverse group of Alliance countries strongly urges the Senate to pass S.1331 and the House to pass HR 2709 to renew GSP as soon as possible. As of today, no clear path for renewal has been outlined by both parties. Businesses in the United States and abroad will continue to pay the price for that delay.

Information on the Alliance and GSP is at Media Contacts: Yasmine Rouaï, Sandler Trade LLC, at 301.648.0218 (; and Marideth Sandler ( at 202.492.7473.

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Sandler Trade LLC Meets with the International Folk Art Alliance

No stranger to assisting artisans access the global market, Marideth Sandler met on November 20 with the International Folk Art Alliance’s Ms. Shawn McQueen-Ruggiero (Executive Director) and Ms. Judith Espinar (Creative Director); Ms. Michele A. Manatt of the Meridian House who also organized the meeting; Ms. Jan Du Plain and Ms. Allyson Browne McKithen of the International Trade Center; and other Washington women leaders interested in bringing a Folk Art Market here to the Washington area.

Formerly called the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the Alliance recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary by holding a 21-hour market last July at which artisans sold $128,000 of their masterworks each hour. CBS recently featured the Market on its Sunday Morning program (

Sandler Trade LLC co-sponsored and brought an artisan and textile expert from Timor-Leste’s Feto Forte weavers for the first time to the July 2013 Market. Having the opportunity to come to the United States, to learn about the U.S. eagerness to purchase high-quality, handwoven textile items, and to meet other artisans was a terrific experience for the Timor-Leste team, and they are eager to return. Their experience was echoed by the many other master folk artists from around the world who were chosen to participate and sell to the 20,000 buyers attending.

To celebrate the international folk arts in a town (i.e., Washington, D.C.) where there are 176 resident embassies and hundreds of thousands of residents from around the world or with international experience and interests would be a “perfect storm” of opportunity.

Take a look at this incredible website and video about the 2013  and upcoming 2014 Markets (, and we think you’ll agree this is something for Washington to seriously consider.

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GSP Expiration and Prospects for Renewal: What to Know and Do While Awaiting Congressional Action

Date & Time: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 2:00-3:00 PM EST
Register Now (Free of Charge!)

Sandler Trade LLC is continuing its webinar series with an insider’s view of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program’s renewal process. After the GSP program expired on July 31st, 2013, thousands of U.S. businesses began paying an estimated $2 million a day in unexpected import taxes. As a result, U.S. businesses that rely on GSP imports for their manufacturing inputs are experiencing increased materials cost and a decline in their global competitiveness.

Abroad, developing country exporters, especially small businesses, are losing their hard-won U.S. market shares. These new duty assessments will continue until the Congress renews the program, at which point these taxes may — or may not — be refunded to U.S. importers; that is up to Congress. When GSP expired in 2011, it took Congress eleven months to pass renewal legislation. What are the prospects for speedier action this time around? What happens while we wait? The webinar will discuss the following topics:

  • Prospects for Congressional action on GSP renewal legislation.
  • Legislative vehicles for renewal.
  • What businesses can do to advocate for quicker renewal.
  • What importers should do to help ensure timely reimbursement if GSP is renewed retroactively.
  • Past GSP expirations and trader experiences.

This webinar was prepared by Sandler Trade LLC with the assistance of Ashley Amidon Manager, Government and Public Affairs, of the International Wood Products Association.

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The Alliance of GSP Countries Renews Effort to Advocate for GSP Renewal

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program expired on July 31st, 2013. This means that nearly 5,000 products coming from the developing world into the United States are no longer receiving duty-free treatment. The impact is not limited to developing countries –,U.S. importers now have the added burden of paying duties (ranging from 1% to 25%) that they did not anticipate, amounting to $2 million per day. This means more expensive manufacturing inputs and consumer goods in the months that GSP is not in effect. As a result, thousands of U.S. jobs are at stake as well as many small business livelihoods here and abroad.

The Alliance was formed in May 2013 to educate Members of the United States Congress about the importance of the GSP program to the Alliance countries. The countries that joined the Alliance, spearheaded by the Royal Thai embassy, are Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Yemen. The Alliance has sent letters to Members of Congress  outlining benefits of the GSP program, including real life stories of improvements in their countries. The Alliance also held numerous meetings with trade staff of U.S. Senators and Representatives. In these meetings, we sought to convey the urgency of renewing the GSP program and the high costs to U.S. and Alliance-member economies of allowing GSP to expire, even on a temporary basis. Congressional staff were appreciative of the information on the program and its far reaching positive impact.

Despite the determination of the Alliance and trade staff on the Hill, the program expired at the end of July. Data shows that, even prior to expiration, GSP trade had already begun to slow. In the first seven months of this year, with GSP renewal in the balance, U.S. imports under the GSP program already decreased by 6.6 percent. We fear that the decline will continue as long as there is uncertainty about GSP renewal. Many businesses, especially small ones, are already being impacted. The longer GSP renewal is postponed, the more Alliance country exporters will lose hard-won U.S. customers to lower-cost producers. When GSP expired in 2011, U.S. GSP imports declined by 17 percent while overall U.S. imports grew 15 percent; GSP import levels have still not recovered to their 2010 level.

We will continue to meet with senior staff to Senate and House Members to urge that GSP be renewed as soon as possible through whatever legislative vehicle is feasible. The Alliance is committed to continuing the conversation on the importance of this program to developing countries as well as U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The longer GSP expiration continues the higher the economic cost to all concerned.

Are you a foreign embassy in Washington D.C. and interested in joining the Alliance? Contact us today: Yasmine Rouaï (yrouai@sandlertrade.comRouai ( or at (202) 350.4303.

For Background on the GSP program, please see

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Despite GSP Expiration, Petition Deadlines for USTR’s 2013 GSP Annual Review Quickly Approaching!

While Sandler Trade LLC continues to work with the 21-nation Alliance of GSP Countries to advocate for prompt renewal of the GSP program, we would like to remind everyone that the petition deadlines for the 2013 Annual GSP Review are fast approaching.
USTR announced its process and deadlines in the Federal Register on July 29. Due Friday, October 4 (just 16 days from now!) are petitions for: 1) products to be added to GSP eligibility, 2) product removals, and 3) country practices (such as IPR, worker rights, investment). Petitions for Competitive Need Limitation (CNL) waivers are due on Friday, November 22, 2013.

Suppliers, importers, or countries that fail by November 22 to submit petitions to request CNL waivers for products exceeding the CNL thresholds in 2013 will lose GSP benefits. The only situation by which this would not be true is if GSP is renewed close to June 30, 2014, which would not leave enough time for the required analyses. U.S. importers and foreign producers need to pay close attention to these deadlines – especially for the CNL waivers – and file their petitions accordingly.

As always, Sandler Trade LLC is here to assist you! If we may briefly pat ourselves on the back — Sandler Trade LLC is proud that our efforts helped secure the approval of the only CNL waiver granted during the 2012 Annual GSP Review – more on that below.
As announced by USTR, products imported from GSP-eligible countries will be excluded from GSP duty-free treatment effective on July 1, 2014 for U.S. imports that meet one of the following two CNL criteria, unless CNL waiver petitions are submitted and granted:
1) 2013 imports for a product under an 8-digit GSP-eligible tariff line from a country have reached 50% of overall U.S. imports for that tariff line, and total U.S. imports of that tariff line exceeded $21.5 million; and
2) 2013 imports for a product under an 8-digit GSP-eligible tariff line from a country exceeded $160 million.

USTR also announced that, due on Friday, October 4, 2013, are petitions to modify the list of articles eligible for GSP treatment, as well as petitions to review the GSP status of beneficiary developing countries. Companies or beneficiary countries that would like to add products to the GSP-eligible products list need to start preparing their petitions.
We help clients achieve success in GSP Reviews – cost-effectively!

Under the 2012 GSP Annual Review, our firm helped JMC (USA) – Bozel North American Division (Bozel) and Polymet Alloys, Inc. (Polymet) petition, through a series of written and oral submissions, to retain duty-free treatment for U.S. imports of calcium silicon ferroalloy (CaSi) imports from Brazil that had exceeded the CNL thresholds. The petition was approved, and CaSi imports from Brazil remain eligible for GSP treatment and the 5% import duty savings. We could not be more proud of this accomplishment, and we are pleased that U.S. importers and CaSi users, as well as Brazilian producers were able to use GSP to strengthen their competitiveness and realize savings.

The petition deadlines for the 2013 GSP Annual Review are fast approaching!
We look forward to assisting other companies that require CNL waivers or want to petition for product additions to meet with similar success. It is not too late to discuss adding a product to the list of GSP-eligible items. If you would like to know if a crucial product you are importing may require a CNL waiver, or require cost-effective assistance with preparing a petition, please contact Sandler Trade LLC for an exploratory conversation.

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Sandler Trade LLC Helps Embassies Unpack Food Safety Modernization Act’s Proposed FDA Regulations

To implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was passed in 2011 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published four proposed regulations that subject foreign food producers to U.S. food production standards and puts the onus on U.S. importers to certify that these standards have been met.

The proposed rules, comprising hundreds of pages, have Washington experts abuzz and scrambling to understand, explain, and comment. The FDA has posted useful summaries and Qs and As (see — and while these are very useful, you will likely have more questions). We found that there is a great need to dive into the details of the proposed regulations, create order out of the chaos, and present governments and traders a clear outline of what it all means for their products. Our experts have done just that.

Sandler Trade LLC is assisting our clients understand the upcoming producer, exporter, and importer obligations. We are helping clients present the information in an accessible format to their government and trade association, and to understand what they can do to influence the final outcomes and to prepare for compliance. Starting preparations now will help ensure that exports will not be disrupted.

Projects that Sandler Trade LLC has already worked on include:

  • Prepared a PowerPoint presentation that concisely explains new FSMA requirements and key elements of the proposed FDA regulations, relevant deadlines for comment, and steps governments and industries should be taking to prepare.
  • Assisted our clients assess likely impacts and prepare submissions for FDA.
  • Provided updates and will hold seminars to educate governments and exporters.

The following are the proposed regulations, and the deadlines for public comment:

  1. Preventative Controls Regulations (September 16)
  2. Produce Safety Regulation (November 26)
  3. Foreign Supplier Verification Program Regulation (November 26)
  4. Accreditation of Third Parties to Audit and Certify (November 26)

It’s difficult to unpack the four proposed regulations and to get to the bottom line: How will this affect foreign food producers, and their U.S. customers? What do these rules mean, and how can companies prepare themselves for compliance?

Imagine you are a relatively small foreign food producer who sells food products to the United States with no safety issues. While you may be doing everything right, U.S. importers will soon need to CERTIFY that you are doing everything right. U.S. importers, under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, will need to collect important information about foreign food producers’ compliance with the Preventative Controls Regulations and Produce Safety Regulations, which outline food safety best practices. Importers will need to know what questions to ask and foreign producers will need to be prepared to demonstrate and prove compliance. The new rules will apply to many foreign firms that manufacture, process, pack, or hold human food. These firms will be required to have written plans that identify hazards, specify the steps that will be put in place to minimize or prevent those hazards, identify monitoring procedures, record monitoring results and specify what actions will be taken to correct problems that arise. Importers will need to be satisfied that imported products are in compliance. On occasion, FDA will evaluate safety plans and inspect facilities to verify compliance.

The way forward is NOT to be discouraged, but to understand what’s coming and to begin preparations. Foreign governments and foreign producers and exporters all need to engage the FDA. Sandler Trade LLC has already begun these preparations on your behalf, and our clients are ahead of the game. Contact us If you want to learn more about the proposed regulations, would like to purchase our PowerPoint overview (which can be personalized to your needs and interests), or would like to submit comments to FDA. Understanding how these regulations will affect exporters and small producers is especially important for Embassies, trade associations and trading companies. Sandler Trade LLC stands ready to assist you.

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Sandler Trade CEO Marideth Sandler to conduct seminars in Burma

Tapping Myanmar’s Opportunities to Export into the U.S. Market

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

9 am to 12:30 pm in the Third Floor Meeting Room UMFCCI Office Tower – Yangon, Myanmar 

This seminar will focus on “Increasing Myanmar’s Exports to the U.S. Market, including through the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)” and “What Myanmar’s Exporters Need to Know about U.S. Import Requirements.” The seminar is co-sponsored by the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry (UMFCCI) and Sandler Trade LLC (Washington, D.C. USA).

UMFCCI Joint Secretary General Daw Khine Khine Nwe will provide opening remarks. Marideth Sandler, Sandler Trade LLC CEO ( and former Executive Director of the U.S. GSP will conduct the session. Attendees will learn:

  • Products of greatest opportunity for export into the U.S.,  based on Myanmar’s production and export profile.
  • The U.S. GSP and how to use its benefits.
  • The 5,000 products eligible for duty-free treatment into the U.S. market from Myanmar, when approved as a U.S. GSP beneficiary.
  • The 1,400 different products that Myanmar will be able to export duty-free into the U.S. that Thailand and most other ASEAN countries cannot.
  • The wide range of U.S. customs, food, consumer safety, and other import regulations that Myanmar’s exporters will want to know as they plan for and begin exporting into the U.S. market.
  • The ways Myanmar’s exporters can find U.S. importers that match producers’ production capacity and price points.


Posted in Business seminars, Import regulations, International Trade | Leave a comment