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Free Trade Agreements & Other Preference Programs

Click here to visit our TPP page. ST&R announces the Trans-Pacific Partnership Assessment and Compliance Program (TPP-ACP) to help your company assess TPP duty savings possibilities and, if appropriate, take advantage of them.

One of the most effective ways to stay globally competitive is to take advantage of the duty breaks and other benefits available under free trade agreements and trade preference programs. The United States currently maintains FTAs with 20 trading partners as well as programs like the Generalized System of Preferences, the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the African Growth and Opportunity Act that allow duty-free and reduced duty treatment to imports from over 100 developing countries. There are also 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.

Goods subject to claims of preferential tariff treatment represent a growing percentage of the merchandise imported into the United States and will likely continue to increase. New arrangements are negotiated and developed all the time, and ST&R has a proven track record of helping clients advocate for and obtain bilateral and regional FTAs, preference programs targeted to specific sectors, countries or regions, and other tariff-lowering measures. Our success stems from our ability to forge effective relationships with strategic negotiating partners, build the necessary support within the administration and Congress, and engage both domestic and foreign interested parties to address their issues and concerns.

At the same time, actually using these tools can present companies with a minefield of potential liability. The rules are slightly (and sometimes significantly) different for each one and modern globalized 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.

For over 35 years ST&R has been helping companies take advantage of FTAs, preference programs and tariff provisions 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’ll work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to resolve the problem and get our client’s shipment released as quickly as possible.

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