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.