US House passes developing country trade program

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. House of  Representatives voted yesterday to renew a long-standing  program that allows about 130 developing countries to export  thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties.

Renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences, which  also requires Senate action, would help support about 82,000  American jobs tied to products imported under the program,  House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said.

“Many U.S. companies source raw materials and other inputs  from GSP countries, and the duty-free treatment of these  imports reduces the production costs of these U.S.  manufacturers, making them more competitive,” Camp said.

About three-quarters of all GSP-eligible imports are raw  materials, components, parts or machinery and equipment used to  manufacture goods in the United States, the Michigan Republican  added.

The bill extends the program through July 31, 2013. It also  is retroactive to last Dec. 31, when the program expired after  Senator Jeff Sessions blocked efforts to renew it.

The Alabama Republican complained that duty-free sleeping  bags imported from Bangladesh under the program threatened to  drive a manufacturer in his state out of business.

U.S. companies have since been required to pay import taxes  on some 4,800 goods that previously came in duty-free.

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