(Washington, D.C.) – The American Apparel & Footwear Association today expressed deep disappointment with President Obama’s decision to proclaim very limited duty-free treatment for travel goods (including luggage, handbags, backpacks, tote bags, etc.) under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
Today’s decision means travel goods imported from ‘least-developed beneficiary developing countries’ and African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) countries are able to enter the U.S. duty free effective tomorrow, July 1, 2016. However, the President has delayed indefinitely a decision on granting travel goods benefits to all other GSP beneficiary developing countries.
After an extensive public review process, the U.S. government heard overwhelming support for adding travel goods to the GSP program. Every witness who testified praised the potential addition of travel goods to GSP while urging that the Obama Administration approve the addition of all travel goods for all GSP countries.
AAFA President and CEO Rick Helfenbein today responded to the decision:
“We are deeply disappointed with President Obama’s decision. If President Obama had granted benefits to travel goods from all GSP-eligible countries, we estimate the industry would have received benefits that could exceed $75 million dollars during the first year alone. These benefits translate into jobs for our U.S. workers, value for our U.S. customers, and improvements for our global supply chains. The potential for that opportunity is now delayed indefinitely.
“Today’s decision denies benefits to countries at a critical point in development, such as the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.
“AAFA has led this effort since the beginning, creating a coalition of more than two dozen organizations, advocating for Congress to change the law, and spearheading the regulatory process.
“We will continue to fight for the addition of travel goods to the GSP program for all GSP-eligible countries. Delaying this decision adds costs in the form of uncertainties and lost duty savings.
“At a time when trade is under assault by politicians in both parties, AAFA will continue to push for trade policies that benefit U.S. workers, U.S. consumers, U.S. companies, and the U.S. economy.”