Small Business Paid $250,000 in INTEREST on Bank Loans to Stay Afloat During GSP Expiration

Last week, we profiled two companies (Summit Specialty International in Georgia and Sophia Foods in New York) that have bounced bounced strongly since Congress renewed GSP. Despite difficulties faced during the GSP lapse, both have more workers – and provide expanded benefits for those workers – than when GSP expired in 2013.

(If you have not done so already, please answer the GSP renewal impacts survey here.)

Yet other companies, such as Novita in Monrovia, California, are still working to overcome the deep losses caused by GSP expiration. Novita imports jewelry from Indonesia that it sells to manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Africa.

While GSP was expired, Novita was forced to lay off 3 of its 17 workers. For the remaining 14, overtime was cut and salaries were reduced (or promised raises not given). Officers used personal loans and credit lines to loan the company funds so that it could continue paying bills. According to Vice President George Nazarian, Novita contemplated shutting down completely on account of GSP expiration.

Saying that GSP is crucial for Novita is a major understatement, but even a year after the retroactive renewal the company is not “whole” again:

  • the $2 million in tariffs paid during expiration were refunded, but the $250,000 in interest payments to banks to keep the lights on are gone forever;
  • the 14 remaining employees have received raised, but the 3 positions lost have not been refilled, and
  • sales of GSP-eligible goods have increased over the past year, but they cannot “undo” the lost sales over a 2-year period.

And that is the reality of GSP expiration: at best it is a speed bump that slows the growth of small businesses like Summit and Sophia Foods. The other end of the spectrum is much worse. Novita was able to avoid the worst of potential outcomes, but the lingering negative effects of GSP expiration show why it is so important for Congress to renew GSP well before its scheduled expiration at the end of 2017.

Novita provided the above information in response to our GSP renewal impacts survey. If you have not done so already, please take a minute to answer these questions today. As always, all data will be kept confidential and no company-specific answers will be attributed unless permission is explicitly granted. You can find another company responses here, here, and here and some preliminary survey response data here and here.

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