The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced today by Federal Register notice those product and country practice petitions that have been accepted by the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) for further analysis in the 2006 GSP Annual Review. The notice also indicates that the review of the Uganda worker rights petition, submitted in 2005, will be closed because of steps taken by the country to improve its protection of worker rights.
The Federal Register notice provides the schedule for submission of comments and public hearing on the accepted petitions. Modifications to the list of articles and countries eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP program resulting from the 2006 Annual Review will be announced on or about June 30, 2007. The list of petitions accepted in the 2006 GSP Annual Review is available at: http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Development/Preference_Programs/GSP/Section_Index.html.
In the 2005 GSP Annual Review, the TPSC accepted for review a country practices petition regarding worker rights in Uganda in which the petitioner, the AFL-CIO, sought to remove Uganda’s eligibility for GSP benefits. The Administration has engaged in extensive consultations with the Ugandan government to address the issues raised in the petition, and the Ugandan government has made progress with respect to these issues. These actions included passage and implementation of new legislation, funding and initiation of operations of a new industrial court (which will address labor issues), and the posting of labor inspectors in each district of the country. In addition, a new legal structure is now in place for improved labor-management relations in the textile sector. Based on that progress, the TPSC has decided to close the review of the petition affecting Uganda.
Congress created the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program as part of the Trade Act of 1974 to create economic opportunities in developing countries, while expanding the choices of American industry and consumers. Congress recently renewed the GSP program through December 31, 2008. The GSP program provides duty-free treatment for 3,400 products from 134 designated beneficiary developing countries and territories. In 1996, Congress authorized the opportunity to import an additional 1400 articles duty-free under GSP from least-developed beneficiary developing countries (currently 43 of all GSP beneficiaries).
From January through November 2006 (YTD), the United States imported $30.0 billion in GSP-eligible products, which was, a 22.6 percent increase over the 2005 GSP trade level. U.S. imports under GSP have comprised 1.8 percent of total U.S. imports YTD 2006, as compared to 1.6 percent in 2005.