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Updated Opportunity to Seek GSP Duty-Free Treatment on Backpacks and Sports Bags

Date: 8/19/15

Silver Spring, MD - August 19, 2015 —On August 19 the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published a Federal Register notice announcing the commencement of its 2015 Annual Review under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).  Of particular interest to SFIA members, this review provides the first-ever opportunity for parties to file petitions seeking the addition of various categories of travel goods including sports bags and backpacks.

Member companies should quickly assess whether they have an interest in securing duty-free GSP treatment for any of the 27 HTS subheadings at issue and, if so, which ones.  SFIA will work with those member companies to identify the best path forward, including coordination with other prospective petitioners, to pursue petitions in the upcoming process. Please contact Bill Sells (BSells@sfia.org).

The issue is urgent since USTR’s deadline for filing these petitions is October 16 and the preparation of petitions involves substantial work (a later deadline of November 23 applies to petitions requesting a waiver of the GSP’s competitive need limits on individual products).  The ensuing process will include, inter alia, public hearings before the USTR-chaired interagency GSP Subcommittee and the U.S. International Trade Commission, and will conclude with final decisions announced next May/June.  For successful petitions, the affected products will become GSP-eligible effective July 1, 2016.

As companies evaluate their interest in potential GSP petitions in these articles, a few factors should be kept in mind.  First, the designation of any of these articles as GSP-eligible would allow the products to be imported free of duty from any of 122 beneficiary developing countries (see pages 18-20). Second, many of the subject categories have high duties (some ranging as high as 20 percent), meaning GSP treatment could result in substantial cost savings. 

As SFIA has been reporting, the trade preferences/trade adjustment bill (H.R. 1295) recently passed by Congress included a provision that modified the GSP statute to remove the longstanding statutory bar to designating certain travel goods as eligible for duty-free GSP treatment.  This opened the door, for the first time, for interested parties to file petitions requesting that one or more of these products be added to the list of GSP-eligible products.
 

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