On October 24, 2017, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced a new initiative in which countries benefiting from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) will be subject to heightened scrutiny. USTR Robert Lighthizer said the review will be “creating a more proactive process to assess beneficiary countries’ eligibility” and ensure non-compliant countries do not receive US trade preferences.
The new effort will include the USTR and other federal agencies’ review of each beneficiary developing country’s (BDCs) compliance with GSP eligibility every three years. After review, compliance concerns could initiate a full country practice review by the White House to determine GSP eligibility. BDCs in Asia will be the focus of the first assessment period with other countries to follow in the second and third years. The interagency process complements the existing petition receipt and public input process for country practice reviews.
Thousands of products from 120 BDCs receive duty-free treatment as part of GSP. There are 15 eligibility criteria components to qualify for the program. Some qualifications include combating child labor, respecting worker rights, intellectual property rights protection, and providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access.
On December 31, 2017, GSP is scheduled to expire. A GSP authorization bill could be approved by Congress prior to its expiration.