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UPDATED: 5/7/05
 

GSP & ATPA Renewal Update

May 28, 2002

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

After more than a month of debate, the Senate finally approved an omnibus trade package, H.R. 3009, by a vote of 66 to 30. A central feature of the bill is the grant of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the President. TPA, otherwise known as "fast track," is the mechanism in which Congress gives up its right to amend trade agreements. TPA is a high priority for the Bush Administration.

Other elements of the bill include:

Renewal and expansion of the Andean Trade Preferences Act to allow duty-free textile and apparel imports from the countries in the Andean region.

Retroactive extension of the Generalized System of Preferences for five years. Authorization of Customs funding, with authority to spend $308 million for ACE development in each of the next two fiscal years.

The Customs provisions also earmark $25 million to hire 285 additional Customs officers to address the needs of offices and ports along the U.S.-Canada border; call for a study on the timeliness of prospective rulings and a study on the extent to which the amount of customs user fees are commensurate with the level of services provided; and earmarks money for a variety of textile transshipment positions.

The trade bill will now go to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences between the versions passed by each chamber. The conferees will face some difficult issues and it will likely take most of the summer to shape a final bill, which will again be voted on by both the House and Senate.

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