How Much is a Sleeping Bag Worth?

Bloomberg News has an article today on GSP expiration called “Sleeping-Bag King Forces Duties on $22.6 Billion in U.S. Imports.”  Unfortunately, the link is for subscribers only, but it makes some interesting points. Here’s one fun fact: $22.6 billion worth of GSP imports in 2010 must now pay tariffs to prevent GSP benefits for sleeping bags from Bangladesh, the total value of which was only $5.3 million last year.

That got us thinking: how much is a sleeping bag worth? 

Doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, it seems that Congress was willing to raise taxes on about $4,236 worth of goods for every $1 worth of sleeping bags imported from Bangladesh last year.  What if we look at the number of bags instead of the value? Well, the United States imported 703,694 sleeping bags from Bangladesh in 2010, so $32,051 worth of goods in a variety of industries lost duty-free benefits for each sleeping bag imported from Bangladesh last year.

If you’re like me, you’re probably mumbling to yourself right about now.  And it gets worse…

That $5.3 million for 703,694 bags figure represents all sleeping bags imported from Bangladesh, not just the ones that entered duty free.  GSP imports in 2010 totaled just $3.3 million for 436,002 sleeping bags.  A new envelope and several calculations later, we see that Congress raised taxes on $6,746 worth of goods for every $1 worth of sleeping bags imported from Bangladesh under GSP last year, or an astonishing $51,729 per sleeping bag.

So we have an answer to our question: a sleeping bag is worth nearly $52,000, at least in terms of action/inaction on U.S. trade policy.

Frustrated?  Upset?  If you’re one of the people paying those costs, then do something about it.  Make your voice heard by signing our GSP Supporter List, taking our GSP expiration poll, sending emails to your Senators and Representatives, and joining the Coalition for GSP.

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