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04-06-2011 - Trade Agenda: GSP, FTA’s and Trade and Economic Cooperation

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP):

While GSP remains one of the top trade initiatives of the 112th Congress they are unable to resolve the issues holding up legislation that would extend the program. No clear indicators exist as to when, or if, GSP will be reinstated and whether or not the program will be reinstated retroactively or certain products (I.e. sleeping bags from Bangladesh) will be excluded. Nonetheless, according to U.S. Government trade data, $54.4 million in tariffs were paid on about $1.5 billion worth of otherwise GSP eligible imports in January 2011.

Free Trade Agreements (FTA):

Political gridlock perhaps best defines the current state of the three pending FTA’s with Korea, Panama and Columbia. While bipartisan support appears to exist, the manner in which they may be enacted remains a primary obstacle.

KORUS (U.S. - Korea FTA) continues to receive the most attention with the prospect of a Congressional vote this spring. Full market access in Korea for U.S. beef remains a point of contention and the possible “packaging” of this FTA with Panama and Columbia may delay enactment.

Panama is close to completing work on its outstanding FTA issues as disclosed at the House Ways and Means Committee’s Trade Subcommittee hearing on March 30, 2011. The Administration is being urged to begin technical discussions with Congress on legislation to implement the trade agreement.

Columbia and the U.S. engaged in senior level talks March 17 – 19 to try to resolve the Administration’s concerns. Primarily, the administration believes more progress is required on Columbia’s part to ensure internationally recognized labor rights are freely exercised.

Trade and Economic Cooperation

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Brazilian Minister of External Relations Antonio de Aguiar Patriota signed the U.S.-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC) on March 19, 2011. The agreement effectively established a Commission with the primary objective of promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Co-chaired by officials from both sides, the commission will meet at least once a year to discuss issues such as: facilitation and liberalization of bilateral trade, technical barriers to trade and regulatory issues affecting trade.The complete agreement is available online at:

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