The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued the following statement in response to the passage of H.R. 1295, Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 in the United States Senate.
Among other things, the legislation retroactively renews and updates the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expired in July 2013. GSP is an important trade program for developing countries by providing duty-free access for a variety of products while allowing U.S. retailers to provide consumer goods at more affordable prices for American families. Since its expiration in July 2013, it is estimated that American companies have paid nearly $2 million per day in unnecessary duties.
“Retailers applaud the Senate for taking action on these important issues, which will restore critical trade and development programs for countries around the world while reducing costs for businesses and consumers,” said Hun Quach, vice president for international trade. “Nearly two years have passed since the GSP program expired, so we urge the House of Representatives to immediately take up and approve the bill.”
The bill includes a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and an extension of the Haiti HELP/HOPE program. RILA joined 650 organizations in a letter expressing support for the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. The Senate passed nearly identical legislation in May by a vote of 97-1.
The bill includes the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Extension Act of 2015, which extends a worker retraining program. The bill also includes provisions of the Leveling the Playing Field Act, which was included in the House and Senate-passed customs reauthorization bills. RILA has expressed concerns regarding the Leveling the Playing Field Act because the bill amends U.S. trade remedy laws to penalize U.S. importers, who make good faith efforts to follow these laws, by putting them in financial jeopardy.
RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.