On May 14, 2015, the Senate passed two bills on trade. One reauthorized trade facilitation and trade enforcement functions and activities and was approved by a vote of 78-20. The other extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and trade preferences for Haiti. It was approved by a vote of 97-1.
The Senate’s Customs reauthorization bill, which differs from the House of Representative’s Customs reauthorization bill mainly because it provides for a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) provision (which the House considers earmarks), is believe to face a difficult road ahead to gain House approval.
GSP, which expired on July 31, 2013, would be retroactively extended through December 31, 2017. Entries filed electronically with an ‘A’ Special Program Indicator (SPI) would be automatically refunded within 90 days by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If an ‘A’ SPI was not transmitted at time of entry filing, a request would need to be filed with CBP within 180 days after passage of this Act.
Of note is that interest will not be paid for retroactive refund, unlike previous retroactive GSP renewals.
AGOA, which is due to expire in September 30, 2015, would be extended for 10 years (this includes AGOA’s third-country fabric provisions). AGOA rules of origin would be simplified, notification and reporting requirements would be added, and transparency and participation in the AGOA review process would be improved.
The Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP), which provide trade benefits for apparel and other products imported from Haiti, would be extended through September 30, 2025.
All bills must be approved by the House and then be sent to the President before enactment. A vote is not expected until after the Memorial Day recess which begins May 22, 2015.
The Senate is now working on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).
Questions about this regulatory update may be directed to Livingston’s U.S. Regulatory Affairs group.