Background

Importers, foreign governments, and others have until March 26 to request changes to the lists of products and countries eligible for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has launched its annual review of GSP and is accepting petitions seeking to add, preserve, or remove GSP benefits. USTR will announce which petitions have been accepted and a schedule for hearings and comments at a later date.

For more information, or for assistance in preparing and submitting petitions for this review, please contact trade consultant Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

Product Review. Interested parties, including foreign governments, may submit petitions seeking the following.

- designation of additional articles as eligible for GSP benefits, including when imported only from (a) least-developed BDCs or (b) beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act

- removal, suspension, or limitation of GSP duty-free treatment with respect to any article

- waiver of the competitive need limit for individual BDCs with respect to specific articles (see below; petitions should indicate whether there was production of a like or directly competitive product in the U.S. during the period 2017 to 2019)

- denial of de minimis CNL waivers for particular products

- redesignation of products currently excluded from GSP eligibility

Articles eligible for a de minimis waiver are automatically considered for one and petitions for such waivers are therefore not required.

To aid companies in determining whether to file such petitions USTR has posted to its website the following lists.

- GSP-eligible articles that exceeded a CNL in 2019 by having an import value greater than $190 million or 50 percent of the total U.S. import value for that year and will be removed from GSP eligibility as of Nov. 1 unless the president grants a waiver (except that the 50 percent CNL does not apply if a like or directly competitive product was not produced in the U.S. in any of the previous three years) – these include products such as taro from Ecuador, methyl tertiary-butyl ether from Argentina, plywood from Ecuador, gold necklaces from Indonesia, and electric generating sets from Brazil

- GSP eligible articles that exceed the 50 percent CNL but are eligible for a de minimis waiver since total U.S. imports of the product were less than $24.5 million – these include products such as swordfish, orchids, fur skins, truffles, and washing machine tubs from Thailand; macadamia nuts, sausages, sugar, molasses, and fur skins from Brazil; sardines and palm hearts from Ecuador; bovine hides and leather from Argentina; rattan from Indonesia; and brooms from Sri Lanka

- GSP-eligible articles from certain BDCs that are not currently receiving duty-free treatment but may be considered for redesignation (more than 100 products are included in this list)

Country Practices Review. Any interested party may submit a petition to review the GSP eligibility of any BDC with respect to any of the GSP designation criteria. Mandatory criteria include not withholding supplies of vital commodity resources from international trade, not providing preferential treatment to products of a developed country that harms U.S. commerce, and taking steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights. The president must also take into account the country’s level of economic development, preferential treatment from other major developed countries, and market access for U.S. goods.

Timeline. USTR typically announces the petitions it will accept for review in May and conducts public hearings on those petitions in June or July. Any final decisions on actions to take as a result of the petitions accepted are generally effective as of Nov. 1.

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