TGA Applauds Introduction of Legislation That Would Lower Duties on U.S. Travel Goods Imports from Developing Countries
Princeton, NJ (December 18, 2013) — The Travel Goods Association (TGA) applauded yesterday’s introduction of the Generalized System of Preferences Update for Production Diversification and Trade Enhancement (GSP UPDATE) Act, legislation that would make U.S. imports of travel goods — luggage, backpacks, travel/sports bags, business cases/computer bags, handbags, and personal leather goods — from developing countries eligible for duty-benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. TGA applauds Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) for spearheading this important legislation.
The legislation, which is the Senate-version of House legislation introduced last summer, would remove the outdated statutory bar preventing U.S. imports of most travel goods from being eligible for duty-benefits under GSP. GSP allows duty-free access to the U.S. market for products from developing countries like Brazil, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The legislation would protect the few remaining domestic manufacturers by 1) excluding certain specific types of travel goods still made in the United States from GSP eligibility and 2) requiring the U.S. government to do a review and request public comment before implementing any duty-benefits for travel goods under GSP.
"With the busy holiday travel period upon us, there is no better time for Congress to act on this important legislation," stated Michele Marini Pittenger, TGA President. "With 99% of all travel goods sold in the United States today being imported," continued Pittenger, "Americans buying luggage for visiting their families this holiday season, or purchasing travel goods as holiday gifts for their children must pay a hidden, regressive tax on their purchases." Concluded Pittenger, "In the current economic climate, this legislation would be a win-win-win for the U.S. travel goods industry, American consumers, and developing countries by not only providing American families with a real and immediate tax cut, but by supporting the more than 100,000 U.S. workers employed by the U.S. travel goods industry today."
In 2012, about 6% of the $9.86 billion in U.S. travel goods imports came from GSP-eligible developing countries. While relatively small, that number represented a 17.4% increase over 2011. And, in the first ten months of 2013, U.S. travel goods imports from GSP countries increased another 10.0%. Because of the relatively low barriers to entry into travel goods manufacturing, the addition of travel goods to GSP would provide developing countries significant new opportunities.
For more information, please contact TGA's Nate Herman, 703-797-9062.