A bill to extend duty-free treatment to all goods imported from least-developed countries has been introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. Dubbed the New Partnership for Development Act of 2007, the measure would apply to all countries designated as "least-developed" by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, except for Myanmar (Burma), and including Namibia and Botswana. Such countries would be permitted to export their goods to the U.S. without paying tariffs or be subject to import quantity limits. A product's country of origin would be calculated under standards similar to those in the Generalized System of Preferences, which requires that 35 percent of the value of a given finished product be added in the beneficiary country. For some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the standard would be lowered to 25 percent in the first 10 years after the bill's implementation. All goods, including textiles and apparel, will be eligible for the benefits, although certain products imported from Cambodia and Bangladesh would still be subject to tariff-rate quotas for 10 years. In exchange for duty-free access to U.S. markets, participating countries would be required to honor international labor standards, show tangible progress toward a market-based economy, and promote respect for the rule of law, political pluralism and human rights, according to the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. The bill must now be reviewed by the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, and possibly the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well. A similar measure is likely to be introduced in the Senate in the near future.
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