The Washington Post had an editorial today on the expiration of the GSP and Andean preferences called Mr. Sessions and the need to trade. It highlights the fact the Senator Sessions held up GSP renewal despite a ruling by the non-partisan US International Trade Commission (ITC) that workers in Alabama were not threatened by GSP imports. It also sums up the position of the Renew GSP Today blog nicely:
Even if Bangladeshi imports did threaten dozens of Alabama jobs, as Mr. Sessions protests, is it right to defend them at the risk of thousands of other jobs that depend on low-cost goods imported through the GSP?
The editorial also hits on the problems associated with Sen. Sessions “solution” to the issue, legislation that specifically excludes from GSP the sleeping bags like those made in Alabama:
If Mr. Sessions wins a legislative break for his constituents, every other senator will want one, undermining the GSP’s long-standing insulation from political pressure.
As noted, a process already exists for companies that feel threatened by GSP imports – an annual review process administered by the USTR that includes an economic analysis by the non-partisan ITC. The Alabama sleeping bag company is using that process again based on changed circumstances (i.e., higher imports from Bangladesh) and the review is pending. However, USTR cannot conclude the review as long as GSP remains expired.
Congress should renew GSP immediately for the thousands of companies that depend on GSP tariff savings. Renewal would also let USTR determine – through the appropriate channels – whether sleeping bags should remain in the program.