A New Year…A New Hope

By Nate Herman

As we begin 2021, we say goodbye to a year that will likely go down in history as one of the worst for the industry – worse than 9/11 and worse than the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Yet, we begin this year with a new hope. Two vaccines, and counting, are helping us see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, after eight long months of inaction, Congress finally approved a COVID relief package to help us get to the end of that tunnel, with an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and critical support for our customers, hardworking American families.

Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet. We begin this year facing some of the same challenges as last year, in the form of new lockdowns and new travel restrictions.

And we start the year facing new challenges. While Congress gives with one hand, they take with another, failing to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program before they left for the holidays. Under GSP, U.S. travel goods imports from developing countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Pakistan enter the U.S. duty-free. U.S. travel goods imports from GSP countries now account for 15.3% of all U.S. travel goods imports. As a result of Congress’ inaction, GSP expires December 31, 2020, amounting to a huge tax increase on the industry at a time when we can least afford it. TGA is working hard to get the new Congress to retroactively renew GSP as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the industry still faces 25% punitive tariffs on U.S. travel goods imports from China and the threat of 25% punitive tariffs on U.S. travel goods imports from Vietnam. But, while it may take time, the new Biden administration will likely take a different approach to trade, one that recognizes the importance of trade to the U.S. travel goods industry and our almost 100,000 American workers.

I know today appears bleak but, if we stay on target, we can have a new hope for a better tomorrow. And TGA will be here to help you every step of the way.

For more information, please contact TGA’s Nate Herman at nate@travel-goods.org or 202-853-9351.