Background

Two measures that offer zero or reduced-duty treatment for imported goods will expire Dec. 31 after Congress failed to reauthorize them. As a result, importers must pay column 1 duty rates on covered goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse on or after 12:00 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2021.

GSP

The Generalized System of Preferences lowers duties on more than 5,000 goods imported from any of 119 beneficiary countries. It was most recently reauthorized effective April 22, 2018.

GSP has expired several times in the past and been later renewed retroactively, meaning importers have been able to seek refunds of duties paid during the lapses in authorization. As a result, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is encouraging importers to continue to flag GSP-eligible importations with special program indicator “A,” which will allow CBP to automate the duty refund process if and when GSP is renewed with a retroactive refund clause.

CBP adds that it will continue to allow post-importation GSP claims made via post-summary correction and protest subsequent to the expiration of GSP but only for importations made while GSP was still in effect.

Currently the fate of GSP is unknown. Some new and conflicting proposals seeking to renew or reform the program have been offered by members of Congress but there is no agreement on a way forward at this time.

MTB

The current miscellaneous trade bill suspends or reduces import duties on 1,660 products, primarily intermediate goods or materials, from Oct. 13, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2020. Under a law enacted in 2016 that reformed the MTB process, importers, manufacturers, and others may petition the International Trade Commission for duty breaks on specific products. The ITC then conducts a review of each petition and submits its recommendations in a report to Congress.

During the current MTB cycle the ITC’s report reviewed 3,442 petitions and indicated that 2,695 of them meet or could meet with minor modifications the requirements for approval. However, Congress never took up actual legislation, which would have not only provided new duty breaks on a number of goods but also extended others that were already in place. Lawmakers may consider an MTB in 2021, but it is unclear when such action may be taken and whether the bill would be retroactive if approved.

For more information about the expiration of GSP and MTB and prospects for their reauthorization, please contact David Olave at (202) 730-4960.

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