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UPDATED: 5/7/05

GSP & ATPA Renewal Update

May 6, 2002

The following information was reported by our sources in Washington.(NCBFAA).

The Senate finally began debate on a trade measure to renew the President's trade negotiating authority, referred to as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

The measure also renews and expands the Andean Trade Preferences Act [due to expire May 16] and extends the GSP program retroactively. The trade bill barely reached the Senate floor, however, before it became mired in controversy over a provision to assist with the health care costs of workers who lose their jobs because of the trade legislation. Senate Democrats insist that the government should subsidize more than 70 percent of the cost of health insurance for such out-of-work individuals. Deep divisions within the Republican ranks complicate the issue further, with conservatives opposed outright to including health care subsidies in a trade bill and moderate Republicans willing to include no more than a 60 percent subsidy in the form of a tax credit. The sharp partisanship means the trade bill debate will likely continue for most of May. Some even give the trade package a 50-50 chance at "blowing up" over the health care issue, while others believe that, after a couple weeks of sniping, the two sides will ultimately work out a tenuous compromise to gain passage of the trade bill.

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