USTR Ron Kirk comments on presidential actions related to the GSP
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued the following statement on today’s presidential proclamation that designates the Republic of South Sudan as a new beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and suspends the GSP eligibility of Argentina:
“The GSP program is an important tool for helping developing countries to grow their economies through increased trade,” said Ambassador Kirk. “The President’s designation of the Republic of South Sudan as a GSP beneficiary country provides an opportunity for this newly independent nation to use trade to boost its economic development and, we hope, will encourage it to continue needed economic reforms. The President’s action is also an important step toward consideration of South Sudan’s eligibility for trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). We look forward to working with Congress on near-term passage of legislation extending AGOA’s third-country fabric provision, which is crucial for continued success of the program.”
The designation of South Sudan as a GSP beneficiary country follows a request by the Government of South Sudan for such designation and a subsequent interagency U.S. Government review of South Sudan’s GSP eligibility, based on the criteria set forth in the GSP statute. The President also designated South Sudan as a least developed beneficiary developing country, which means that once the presidential action takes full effect, nearly 4,900 products from South Sudan will be eligible for duty-free treatment upon entry into the United States. GSP eligibility is a prerequisite for consideration of a country’s eligibility for trade benefits under AGOA.
“The suspension of Argentina’s GSP eligibility is based on a finding that the country is not in compliance with the statutory GSP eligibility criteria set by Congress,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Specifically, the Argentine government has failed to pay two longstanding arbitral awards in favor of U.S. companies. We urge the Government of Argentina to pay the subject awards. This would allow us to consider reinstating Argentina’s GSP eligibility and promote the growth of a mutually beneficial U.S.-Argentina trade and investment relationship.”
The GSP action on Argentina, which becomes effective 60 days after the publication of the presidential proclamation in the Federal Register, follows an interagency U.S. Government review of two separate petitions submitted by U.S. companies. The petitions sought the removal of Argentina from GSP eligibility based on the Government of Argentina’s failure, in contravention of the GSP statutory eligibility criteria, to act in good faith in recognizing as binding and enforcing arbitral awards in favor of U.S. companies rendered under the United States-Argentina bilateral investment treaty and the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention). The subject awards, totaling about $300 million plus interest, were rendered by ICSID arbitral tribunals in 2005 and 2006 and were subsequently upheld against challenge by Argentina in ICSID annulment proceedings. The Government of Argentina has not paid the awards, despite repeated requests to do so by the two petitioners and the United States Government. In 2011, U.S. imports from Argentina benefiting from GSP treatment totaled $477 million (about 11 percent of total imports from Argentina), making Argentina the ninth-ranking source of imports under the GSP program last year.
Congress created the GSP program in the Trade Act of 1974 to help developing countries expand their economies by allowing certain goods to be imported to the United States duty-free. Under the GSP program, 129 beneficiary developing countries, including 42 least-developed countries, are eligible to export up to 4,881 types of products to the United States duty-free. In 2011, the total value of imports that entered the United States duty-free under GSP was $18.5 billion. For more information on the GSP program, please visit the GSP page.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was established in 2000 to provide eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access for a broader variety of products than is available under GSP, including apparel, footwear, and some agricultural and processed food products. AGOA’s third-country fabric provision allows most sub-Saharan African AGOA beneficiaries to use fabric from any source in the production of qualifying duty-free apparel subject to duty-free treatment when imported into the United States. This provision is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2012.
21 AGOA FORUM 2013: Ethiopia will host the 2013 US-Africa AGOA Forum. AGOA.info has been informed that the Forum will not take place as envisaged on 28 June - 1 July, but at a later date. According to information available to AGOA.info, these dates will be 12-13 August 2013. The theme for this year’s Forum is “Trade and Technology for sustained change”“
21 December 2012: Guinea-Bissau and Mali lose AGOA eligibility
APRIL 2013: Monthly data has been updated to include February 2013 data, quarterly includes full year 2012 data.
New US strategy towards Africa: White House Factsheet on new strategy towards Africa, plus overview of past US engagement with Africa. Click here for the file and this link for a summary article.
02 August 2012: Bill to extend third country fabric provision passes Congress Download the House of Reps. Bill at this link
South Sudan declared AGOA-eligible on 26 March 2012. Earlier, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger and Gambia declared AGOA eligible on 25 October 2011. See news item, presidential declaration and trade overview at this link (S Sudan) and here (others).
US GSP extended and GSP benefits to be applied retrospectively for the year 2011 since expiry of previous GSP. See AGOA.info legal documents section at the following link.
AGOA at 10: Reflections on US-Africa trade with a focus on SACU: Tralac Working Paper that can be downloaded at this
December 2010: The Democratic Republic of Congo loses its AGOA eligibility status. See proclamation here (pdf download available at this link
ITC investigation of textiles and apparel: Further details at this link
AGOA IV – Changes to AGOA explained
For disaggregated trade data covering each AGOA country, follow the relevant link in the Country Sections (left column) or click here.
For detailed AGOA maps click here