Key Vote Letter Supporting H.R. 4284, Legislation to Extend the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)
December 14, 2009
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges you to support H.R. 4284, which would extend for one year the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), both of which will expire on December 31. While the Chamber has concerns relating to the continued eligibility of Ecuador for benefits under ATPA, we believe that in other regards U.S. foreign policy and trade policy interests would benefit from an extension of these programs.
ATPA has a proven record generating trade, growth, and jobs. U.S. imports from the beneficiary countries have risen from $5 billion in 1991 to $28.5 billion in 2008 and sustain approximately two million jobs in the Andean region. These jobs tend to pay above-average wages and often serve as a gateway for workers to enter the formal sector. American workers benefit as well: Colombia's cut flower industry, for example, sustains roughly 400,000 jobs, half in Colombia and half in the U.S. transportation, distribution, and retail industries.
Given Ecuador's ongoing pattern of failure to respect the rule of law, private property, and the sanctity of contracts, the Chamber supports a provision in H.R. 4284 to evaluate in mid-2010 whether Ecuador is complying with the statute's eligibility criteria relating to the fair treatment of U.S. companies. Some of these issues were noted in the President's June 30, 2009, report to Congress on Ecuador's ATPA eligibility. The Chamber urges Congress to continue to press Ecuador on these issues.
GSP extends duty-free treatment to selected goods imported from more than 130 developing countries. As does ATPA, it boosts the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and lowers the cost of consumer goods for American families. Approximately three-quarters of U.S. imports using GSP are raw materials, parts and components, or machinery and equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States for domestic consumption or for export. According to a Chamber study, moving GSP imports from the docks to the retail shelves supported nearly 82,000 U.S. jobs in 2005.
The Chamber urges you to strengthen the position of American workers and businesses by supporting H.R. 4284. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten