WASHINGTON – US
Trade Representative Rob Portman today announced that President Bush has
reinstated duty-free trade benefits for the Republic of Liberia under the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
"By reinstating Liberia’s GSP eligibility the United States is providing
strong support to recently elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s efforts to
increase employment, diversify exports, and stabilize society," said Ambassador
Portman. "Liberia is emerging from nearly two decades of war. GSP will be a
useful tool in helping to rebuild Liberia and bring hope to its people.
The benefits were suspended in 1990 because of worker rights concerns.
President Sirleaf has made improving worker rights a high priority. This
includes repeal of a decree to prohibit strikes and inviting the International
Labor Organization (ILO) to assist Liberia in bringing its laws and practices
into conformity with its ILO obligations.
Liberia 's reinstated benefits under the GSP program will become effective in
two stages. Eligibility as a developed beneficiary developing country (BDC) will
occur fifteen days from today, allowing Liberia to export a number of products
duty-free to the United States. After a 60-day period of Congressional review
(which begins today), Liberia will become a least developed BDC, which will
provide Liberian businesses with the ability to export additional products to
the United States free of duty.
The GSP program was created by the Trade Act of 1974 to promote economic
development of developing nations. Under the program, 137 beneficiary developing
countries export approximately 3,450 different products duty-free to the United
States. Least developed BDCs are eligible to export another 1,400 products
duty-free. In the first 11 months of 2005, exports that have entered the United
States duty-free under the GSP program have amounted to nearly $25 billion in
trade. Almost all textile and apparel products are ineligible for duty-free
treatment under the GSP program.
As a result of the Administration’s reinstatement of Liberia’s GSP benefits,
nearly one-quarter of Liberia’s current non-rubber exports will now enter the
United States duty-free.