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Free Trade Agreements & Other Preference Programs

The United States has free trade agreements with 20 trading partners that eliminate tariffs and lower a host of other trade barriers. The U.S. also maintains preference programs like the Generalized System of Preferences, the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act that offer duty-free and reduced duty treatment to imports from more than 100 developing countries. In addition, there are provisions in Chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. that allow for certain duty-free imports, including U.S.-made goods returned from abroad. 

Actually using these tools, however, can present companies with a minefield of potential liability. The rules are slightly (and sometimes significantly) different for each one and modern global supply chains can complicate the process of compliance. Government agencies are watching with increased scrutiny to make sure the appropriate requirements are met, ready to hit violators with hefty penalties. 

Since 1977, ST&R has been helping companies take advantage of FTAs, preference programs, and other tools to lower their duty burdens, boost their bottom lines, and stay competitive in the global marketplace. ST&R’s experienced professionals help review the policies, procedures, and internal controls of foreign manufacturers, put together a documentation package establishing program eligibility, and set up a recordkeeping system to support origin and preference claims. If a dispute over eligibility causes a client’s goods to be detained or seized, we work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to resolve the problem and get the shipment released as quickly as possible. 

ST&R also has a proven track record of helping companies advocate for their interests as new FTAs are negotiated and existing ones are updated. Click here for more information.

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