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U.S. Chamber Applauds Extension of Andean Trade Deal, GSP

Thursday, October 2, 2008 - 8:00pm

U.S. Chamber Applauds Extension of Andean Trade Deal, GSP

Despite Benefits, Bill Continues the Status Quo of One-Way Free Trade

WASHINGTON, DC— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hailed today's congressional approval of legislation extending the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through December 2009.

"This balanced compromise will help American manufacturers and working families," said the U.S. Chamber's Vice President for International Affairs John Murphy.

ATPA grants duty-free access to the U.S. market for most imports from the Andean region, and it supports approximately 1.5 million jobs in Colombia and Peru alone. It also benefits American workers and families. For instance, Colombia's flower industry employs 200,000 Colombians, but an additional 225,000 U.S. jobs in the transportation, distribution, and retail industries depend on imports of Colombian flowers.

"Congress was right to extend the Andean preferences, but this bill continues the status quo of one-way free trade," Murphy said. "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.

"It's time for Congress to give American workers and farmers the same trade opportunities that it gives Colombians by passing the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement," he said.

The bill also requires the next administration to review the eligibility of Ecuador and Bolivia in mid-2009. The Chamber has voiced significant concerns about the rule of law in those two countries and strongly supports this new mechanism to review their treatment of U.S. investors.

The bill also extends the three-decade old 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.

"The GSP trade program may not be flashy, but a Chamber study found it supports more than 80,000 American jobs," said Murphy. "About three-quarters of U.S. imports under GSP are imports 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."

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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