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Trump Administration Enforces Trade Preference Program Eligibility

December 22, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer applauded President Trump’s decision today to suspend some of Ukraine’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences Program (GSP), restore GSP eligibility for Argentina, and restore eligibility for The Gambia and Swaziland to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

"President Trump has sent a clear message that the United States will vigorously enforce eligibility criteria for preferential access to the U.S. market,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.  “Beneficiary countries choose to either work with USTR to meet trade preference eligibility criteria or face enforcement actions. The Administration is committed to ensuring that other countries keep their end of the bargain in our trade relationships.”

Ukraine’s partial suspension from GSP stems from its failure to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) despite years of encouragement and assistance from the U.S. Government.  The President has decided to provide 120 days’ notice in this case because the Government of Ukraine has a viable path to remedy the situation, including improving the current legal regime governing royalty reimbursement to right holders’ organizations.  

Argentina is being reinstated to the GSP program effective January 1, 2018 following resolution of certain arbitral disputes with U.S. companies, new commitments by the Argentine government to improve market access for U.S. agricultural products, and improved protection and enforcement of IPR.  Due to certain remaining IPR issues, the restoration of GSP benefits for Argentina will not apply to all eligible products.

The Gambia lost its AGOA eligibility in 2015 due to human rights abuses and the deterioration of the rule of law.  Following democratic elections in December 2016, The Gambia has made progress in strengthening the rule of law, improving human rights, and supporting political pluralism. 

Swaziland lost AGOA eligibility in 2015 due to concerns over restrictions on the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.  The United States set a series of benchmarks related to lifting restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association, and expression Swaziland would need to meet to regain AGOA eligibility.  Swaziland met the last of these benchmarks in November 2017.

USTR is conducting a separate AGOA out-of-cycle review for Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda in response to a petition asserting that their phased ban on imports of used clothing is negatively impacting U.S. jobs. This review is ongoing.


Under U.S. trade preferences programs, including GSP and AGOA, certain products can enter the United States duty-free if beneficiary countries meet the eligibility criteria established by Congress. GSP criteria include, among others, respecting arbitral awards in favor of U.S. citizens or corporations, combating child labor, respecting internationally recognized worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection, and providing the United States with equitable and reasonable market access.  AGOA eligibility criteria include making progress toward establishing political pluralism, the rule of law, and a market-based economy; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment; protection of internationally recognized worker rights; a system to combat corruption and bribery; and economic policies to reduce poverty. 

For more information on U.S. trade preference programs, visit the USTR website here.