Coalition Seeks Feedback on Generalized System of Preferences Renewal

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July 29 marked the one-year anniversary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program going back into effect. The California Chamber of Commerce was among 661 American organizations that sent a letter to congressional leaders to urge retroactive renewal of the GSP program. Just a few days after the letter was sent, Congress reauthorized the program.

The Coalition for GSP, a Washington, D.C.-based group of U.S. businesses, trade associations, and consumer organizations, is asking California businesses to answer the question, “What has been the impact since then?”

The coalition is looking for anecdotes that resonate with policy makers, adding specific examples to the data the coalition can gather.

GSP extends duty-free treatment to several thousand products imported into the United States from more than two-thirds of the world’s countries. GSP is an important way U.S. companies keep costs down. Large and small businesses import products duty-free under GSP.

According to the coalition, the renewal alone led to about $1.3 billion in refunds. The coalition also states that GSP waived about $580 million in additional import taxes from August 2015 to May 2016 (the graphics page  has snapshots with monthly savings update). Assuming average savings in June and July, GSP renewal meant an extra $2 billion at the disposal of U.S. companies over the last year.

In fact, in the first four months of 2016, GSP saved American companies about $230 million in eliminated tariffs. For a map showing the overall GSP imports and savings by state from January to April, visit: renewgsptoday.com.

Companies in California continued to lead the way with $36 million in tax savings, followed by companies in New Jersey with $20 million. Texas replaced New York in third place and Florida leapfrogged over Georgia for fifth place among all states in terms of tax savings from GSP so far in 2016.

The survey will remain open until Labor Day (Monday, September 5). As always, respondents have full say over whether any company-specific info can be used publicly or if responses can be part of only the aggregated survey results.

Take the survey here.

Background

The GSP program eliminates import taxes on designated products from 122 developing countries around the world. GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974 and is designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for products from designated beneficiary countries and territories.

GSP was reauthorized on June 29, 2015 (effective July 29, 2015) for a period of two-and-a-half years. The program is set to expire on December 31, 2017.

Signatories on the letter sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CalChamber and others on June 24, 2015 to U.S. House and Senate leaders in support of renewing the GSP program included businesses ranging in size from single-person sole proprietorships to some of the largest corporations in the world. Industries represented included apparel, footwear, food, consumer electronics, fashion jewelry and accessories, wood products, fisheries, retail, recreational vehicles, rug importers, sports and fitness, wood products and travel goods.

The businesses are headquartered in 46 states and 290 congressional districts, and the District of Columbia.

Impact

GSP is an important tool for boosting economic growth and job creation. Many U.S. companies source raw materials and other inputs from GSP countries, and the duty-free treatment of these imports reduces the production costs of these U.S. manufacturers, making them more competitive.

California received more than any other state in refunds. In 2015, GSP waived tariffs in California on $2.7 billion worth of imports and saved California companies $103 million. Of the $633 million saved by U.S. companies in 2015, more than 15.5% went to California.

Products eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, include most manufactured items; many types of chemicals, minerals and building stone; jewelry; many types of carpets; and certain agricultural and fishery products.

CalChamber Position

The CalChamber, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

The CalChamber supports reauthorization of the GSP program so that companies throughout the United States can save hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, funds that could be used to support future growth.

For more information, please visit calchamber.com/gsp.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

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Susanne T. Stirling
About Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed the CalChamber’s International Trade Department since 1982. She serves on the District Export Council (appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce), the National Export Council Steering Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Committee, and the Chile-California Council. She studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.