One of the great benefits of trade, and imports specifically, is that individuals can reap the rewards without taking the time to be an active participant in trading activities. Americans do not have to travel to Central and South America to buy fresh fruit in the winter or identify possible suppliers in the Mediterranean to arrange for a shipment of olive oil. They simply go to their local store and choose the brand whose price, size, characteristics, etc. best reflect their preferences. This wealth of choices is not limited to seasonal or regional foods, it applies to nearly all products.
So it is ironic that the ease with which people benefit from imports – across every aspect of their lives – allows them take those benefits for granted. This is particularly true for goods brought in under special programs like GSP that most Americans simply do not know exist. For example, GSP eliminated more than $250 million in import taxes on food and consumer goods in 2015 – yet we know of only one person who has actually sought to identify GSP-eligible products in their home (this author). Here are some of the things we have found over the years.
GSP eliminates the 8 percent import tax on ceramic dinnerware sets from Indonesia. In 2015, GSP waived more than $3.5 million in import taxes on such products.
GSP eliminates the 2 percent tariff on stainless steel dog bowls from India. In 2015, GSP waived about $2.5 million in import taxes on these dog bowls (and related household items), such as the one used by Dan’s dog, Duchess.
GSP eliminates the 3.9 percent tariff on wooden picture frames from Thailand. In 2015, GSP waived about $750,000 in import taxes on wooden frames from Thailand and another $1.2 million more on imports from other GSP countries.
GSP eliminates tariffs of up to 6.4 percent on the food items pictured below. Not only are the products potentially eligible for GSP, all of those brands are on the GSP Supporter List. In 2015, GSP waived about $90 million in tariffs across all food types.
Of course, GSP could do more. There has been an influx of baby clothes over the last two years, many of which come from GSP countries, such as those pictured below. However, most apparel is excluded from GSP, meaning that the United States collected nearly $80 million in taxes on baby clothes from GSP countries alone.
For all of the products above, the difference between lower and higher prices for American families is congressional action on GSP. (While not currently in the program, there is nothing the prevents Congress from changing the statute to allow benefits for apparel imports, or even a subsection such as baby clothes.) Similar examples could be found in just about every home in America – if the right person is looking.
Lack of awareness of programs such as GSP does and should not preclude families from the benefits of imports. But it does make it incumbent upon those companies and associations that understand the importance of imports to promote them – and that is why the Coalition for GSP is proud to support “Imports Work for America” week.
This post is part of the 5th Annual “Imports Work for America Week.“ For more information visit the Imports Work website.