November 21, 2011 Importers and Exporters Have Hopeful Expectation With New Legislation Congress recently approved critical legislation – The renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) The renewal of Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) New free trade agreements Importers and exporters have great interest in the recently passed legislation. Approved Legislation The GSP and ATPA programs expired on December 31, 2010. Congress reinstated both programs, retroactive to January 1, 2011 and February 12, 2011, respectively. Both programs extend though July 31, 2013. The renewal of the GSP program makes many imported items duty free if imported from a designated developing country. GSP treatment on imported items from the Philippines, India, Thailand, Turkey and many others have helped USA importers compete in the global marketplace. The ATPA renewal offers the duty-free treatment to a broader array of imported items from Andean-region countries. The free trade agreements include US-South Korea, US-Panama, and US-Colombia. It is likely the agreements will not go into effect until January 2012. Further Review Like any new legislation, importers and exporters need to thoroughly review the provisions and keep tabs on any changes. With the GSP renewal retroactive to January 1, 2011, will importers receive refunds on any duties paid in 2011? With the GSP renewal retroactive to January 1, 2011, will importers receive refunds on any duties paid in 2011? Will the new GSP list add items to the duty free list for the next few years as well as disqualify others? How will Customs & Border Protection implement the new GSP?How will Customs & Border Protection implement the new GSP? What’s an importer or exporter to do? Primarily, US companies need to be patient, as it will take some time for Customs & Border Protection, Commerce and other affected government agencies to make the mandated changes. Moreover, the affected overseas parties will be defining their own version of the agreements. It looks like the first quarter of 2012 will be an interesting time for importers and exporters with all these changes. One thing is clear; the benefit to the bottom line could be substantial.