Spending Bill Renews Federal GSP Program
President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law last week that funds the federal government through its fiscal year. At 2,200 pages, the omnibus spending bill contained at least one detail of interest to the promotional products industry—the renewal of the General System of Preferences (GSP) program, which had expired at the end of 2017.
The GSP program allows duty-free access to the U.S. market by products from developing and least-developed countries in order to facilitate global competition and to improve consumer choice in the U.S. The program’s renewal is retroactive, going back to its December 31, 2017, expiration, so importers should be able to reclaim duties paid so far in 2018. Updates to the program include more requirements related to eligibility, and requiring the U.S. Trade Representative to submit a report on eligibility criteria to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees annually.
The GSP program imparts duty-free status to thousands of products that qualify as GSP-eligible and are imported directly from a GSP-eligible country. Examples of GSP-eligible goods include travel sets, plastic kitchen articles, a variety of glassware and home decorative objects, ballpoint pens, certain athletic equipment and various bathroom articles. The 120 GSP-eligible countries (also called a Beneficiary Developing Country, or BDC) include the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Cambodia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The GSP statute has been on the books since 1976. It periodically expires and is typically renewed, and its last renewal came as part of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. Last July, the Trump Administration extended duty-free treatment to imports of all statutorily eligible travel goods—including luggage, handbags, backpacks, tote bags, etc.—from all eligible countries under the GSP program.
PPAI, through the Association's Legislative Education Action Day (L.E.A.D.) in Washington, D.C., outreach to legislators and collaboration with partners both within and outside the promotional products industry, has advocated for the GSP program and its renewal for several years.