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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the recent action of Congress to extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through December of 2009. ATPA grants duty-free access to U.S. markets for most imports from the Andean region, including Colombia and Peru. John Murphy, vice president of international affairs with the Chamber, offered a mixed endorsement of Congress's action with regard to ATPA. "Congress was right to extend the Andean preferences," he said, "but this bill continues the status quo of one-way free trade. Colombians are able to send their exports to the U.S. duty-free, but American workers and farmers will continue to face double-digit tariffs on most of their exports to Colombia." Murphy urged passage of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which he said would give U.S. workers and farmers the same trade opportunities as those currently enjoyed by Colombians. The bill requires the next administration to review the eligibility of Ecuador and Bolivia in mid-2009. The Chamber said it has "significant concerns about the rule of law in those two countries." The group also hailed the extension of the GSP program, which provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for selected imports from more than 140 developing countries. In 2007, U.S. imports under GSP surpassed $30 billion. A Chamber study has found that GSP supports more than 80,000 American jobs, Murphy said, adding that roughly three-quarters of U.S. imports under GSP are those used by U.S. manufacturers. "Congress clearly recognized that raising prices on these materials will only undermine the competitiveness of U.S. factories and raise prices for American families," he said.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
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