The U.S. House Wednesday evening approved a retroactive renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences.
GSP, which allows for duty-free treatment of certain goods from developing countries, was allowed to expire by Congress on Dec. 31. Since GSP's expiration, it's estimated that U.S. importers pay as much as $2 million a day in duties, according to the Coalition for GSP.
Nearly 130 countries and territories maintain GSP status with the United States. GSP applies to about 3,400 of the more than 10,500 products imported into the country. GSP-eligible products are mostly from manufacturers and semi-manufacturers of consumer electronics, machinery and parts, and selected agricultural and industrial goods.
GSP's renewal last year was halted by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who claimed sleeping bags imported duty free from Bangladesh under GSP had nearly shut down Exxel Outdoor's plant in Haleyville, Ala. He maintained this stance although the U.S. International Trade Commission found no evidence of injury to Exxel from these imports.
The Coalition for GSP and numerous other trade groups have lobbied Capitol Hill lawmakers to renew GSP.
'GSP is an important program that will help boost the U.S. economy and support and create American jobs,' said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. 'We are especially encouraged to see that after only a couple days back in town, Congress is already taking action on trade.'
The trade group urged the Senate to take similar action to approve GSP as soon as possible.
The NFTC also welcomed the House GSP renewal vote as a first step toward congressional action on pending U.S. free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Andean Trade Preference Act.