USTR Announces New Enforcement Priorities for GSP
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has announced a new effort to ensure beneficiary countries are meeting the eligibility criteria of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade preference program.
This new effort includes a heightened focus on concluding outstanding GSP cases and a new interagency process to assess beneficiary country eligibility. This interagency process complements the current petition receipt and public input process for country practice reviews, which will remain unchanged.
Under the GSP program, certain products from 120 beneficiary developing countries and territories can enter the United States duty-free. In 2016, the total value of imports that entered the United States under GSP was $18.9 billion. To qualify for GSP, a beneficiary country must meet 15 eligibility criteria established by Congress, including respecting arbitral awards in favor of US 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.
The new additional process will involve a triennial assessment by USTR and other relevant agencies of each GSP beneficiary country’s compliance with the statutory eligibility criteria. If the assessment of a beneficiary country raises concerns regarding the country’s compliance with an eligibility criterion, the administration may self-initiate a full country practice review of that country’s continued eligibility for GSP. The first assessment period will focus on GSP beneficiary countries in Asia. The Trump administration will assess GSP beneficiary countries in other parts of the world in the second and third years of this process.
“Countries receiving US trade benefits must meet the eligibility criteria established by Congress,” said Lighthizer. “By creating a more proactive process to assess beneficiary countries’ eligibility, the United States can ensure that countries that are not playing by the rules do not receive US trade preferences. This sets the correct balance for a system that helps incentivize economic reform in developing countries and achieve a level playing field for American businesses.”