President reauthorizes and renews GSP, AGOA and Haiti FTAs

On June 29, 2015 President Barack Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 into law, effective the 30th day after the date of the enactment, expected to be July 29, 2015.

The Trade Preference Extension Act includes the renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), extends the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and two Haiti trade preferences levels, extends user fees offsets, and contains tariff amendment provisions.

Generalized System of Preferences
GSP, which expired on July 31, 2013, is being retroactively renewed, with a new expiration date of December 31, 2017.

Entries filed electronically with a GSP designated Special Program Indicator (SPI) would be automatically refunded within 90 days after the date of liquidation/reliquidation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), without interest (previous retroactive GSP renewals had included interest).

If a GSP designated SPI was not transmitted at time of entry filing, a request (protest) would need to be filed with CBP within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

It also provides the President the ability to designate certain cotton articles as eligible for duty-free treatment only for least-developed beneficiary developing countries (LDBDCs); and to designate handbags, luggage, and flat goods as eligible articles from all beneficiary developing countries.

African Growth and Opportunity Act
AGOA, which was due to expire on September 30, 2015, is being extended for ten years until September 30, 2025, and includes AGOA’s third-country fabric provisions. Rules of origin under AGOA are simplified, with notification and reporting requirements added, and improved transparency and participation in the AGOA review process. It also provides the president with the ability to withdraw, suspend or limit benefits for AGOA countries who do not comply with the eligibility criteria.

Haiti trade preferences
The Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP), which provide special duty-free rules articles, including woven articles and certain knit articles, assembled in Haiti and imported from Haiti or the Dominican Republic to the U.S. are being extended through September 30, 2025.

Tariff amendments
This bill amends the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) to provide for the duty-free treatment of certain recreational performance outerwear as well as of certain specialized athletic footwear.

This bill amends the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1958 to extend customs user fees for certain customs services performed through July 7, 2025.

The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act is amended to extend through June 30, 2025. The increase from 0.21% ad valorem to 0.3464% ad valorem in the customs user fees for the processing of merchandise formally entered or released into the U.S. is scheduled to begin on December 1, 2015.

A White House Fact Sheet is available.

Questions about this regulatory update may be directed to Livingston’s U.S. Regulatory Affairs group.