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USTR Ron Kirk Applauds Senate Passage of Key Trade Programs

09/22/2011

TAA, GSP Vote “Important Step” in Trade Agenda

Washington, D.C.United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today applauded Senate passage of legislation renewing the expired Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and also renewing key Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) reforms. GSP promotes economic growth in the developing world and benefits American importers and consumers by providing duty-free entry for thousands of products from developing countries. TAA provides training and support to help workers, firms, farmers and fishermen transition to alternative employment if their jobs are negatively affected by trade. TAA is an essential component of President Obama’s balanced trade agenda, which aims to create jobs here at home by boosting American exports while recognizing the potential costs of trade as well.

“The Senate's action is an important step toward renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences and enactment of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms and the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Discussions continue with congressional leadership on how these bills will move through the legislative process. The trade agreements, along with Trade Adjustment Assistance, are an integral part of the President’s plan to create jobs here at home. The President looks forward to their prompt passage."

GSP saved U.S. importers nearly $682 million in duties in 2010. Most U.S. imports under GSP are used as inputs by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States. According to a 2005 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, the program supports over 80,000 American jobs associated with moving GSP imports from the docks to farmers, manufacturers and ultimately to retail shelves. GSP provides preferential duty-free entry for about 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. The program was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974. It expired in December 2010.

The TAA legislation approved by the Senate today reflects a bipartisan agreement struck by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to streamline and save costs on a renewal of key Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms. The compromise maintained the goals of a 2009 law that improved the scope and effectiveness of the program – for instance, covering Americans employed in the services sector in addition to U.S. manufacturing workers.