Effective July 1 the Obama administration added designated travel goods under 27 HTSUS subheadings (including luggage, backpacks, handbags and pocket goods such as wallets) to the list of products eligible for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences but only for least-developed beneficiary developing countries (of which there are currently 43) and African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary countries (of which there are currently 38). In the wake of substantial pressure from exporters, importers and others, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is now considering extending GSP eligibility to these products when imported from more economically advanced GSP beneficiaries.

USTR indicates that a decision on whether to make this change will take the following factors into account.

- the effect on furthering the economic development of the developing countries through the expansion of their exports

- the extent to which other major developed countries are undertaking a comparable effort to assist developing countries by granting generalized preferences with respect to imports of products of such countries

- the anticipated impact on U.S. producers of like or directly competitive products

- the extent of the beneficiary developing countries’ competitiveness with respect to eligible articles

USTR is seeking public comments by Oct. 4 and will convene a public hearing Oct. 18 to receive additional information and views regarding this potential change. Pre-hearing briefs and requests to appear at the hearing are due by Oct. 4 and post-hearing comments or briefs are due by Nov. 1. USTR aims to conclude its review by January 2017.

For more information on this process or assistance in participating, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or David Olave at (202) 730-4960.

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