U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently sent a letter to leaders of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences, the Andean Trade Preference Act, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. It was sent to members of Senate and House leadership as well as to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Here is the text of the letter sent to Speaker Boehner:
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
We are writing to urge Congress to reauthorize two recently expired trade preference programs – the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) – as well as the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The two preference programs enjoy broad bipartisan support and are important, time-tested tools for promoting economic growth in the developing world. All three programs support U.S. jobs and help to enhance U.S. competitiveness.
The GSP program provides preferential, duty-free entry to the United States for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including many of the world’s poorest countries. By opening the U.S. market to products from these countries, GSP supports sustainable, trade-driven economic development in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Georgia, and Cambodia. ATPA, which provides duty-free treatment to products from Colombia and Ecuador, promotes diversification of exports, consolidation of democracy, and anti-drug trafficking efforts in these two important Latin American countries.
GSP and ATPA benefit the U.S. economy, too. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, moving GSP imports from the docks to U.S. consumers, farmers, and manufacturers supports over 80,000 U.S. jobs. ATPA imports also support thousands of U.S. jobs in sectors ranging from apparel to cut flowers. Many GSP and ATPA imports are used as inputs by U.S. companies to manufacture goods here in the United States. The programs are particularly important to American small businesses, many of which rely on the programs’ duty savings to stay competitive. GSP and ATPA also help American families on a budget by lowering prices on consumer goods.
The lapse in GSP and ATPA authorization has already cost U.S. businesses millions of dollars in additional import duties, increased costs to American manufacturers and consumers, and undercut efforts by poor countries to grow their economies and fight poverty. If the programs are not reauthorized soon, many U.S. importers may be forced to find other sources for their GSP and ATPA imports, raising costs for all and undermining the development objectives of the programs.
Finally, we must also work together to find a way forward on authorizing a long-term extension of TAA programs, which have helped so many Americans get back on their feet. Over the past two years, the number of workers enrolled in TAA training increased over 150 percent. These vital programs ensure that America’s workers have access to training and resources when they need it most.
We urge Congress to reauthorize the GSP, ATPA, and TAA programs at the earliest opportunity and for the longest period possible so that we can keep faith with the American worker, support U.S. jobs, promote economic development overseas, and provide greater certainty for American and developing country businesses and investors.
Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State