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Call to Congress for Fair Treatment from Countries Receiving US Trade Benefits

19 November 2013

US - A group of agricultural and food organisations led by the National Pork Producers Council has called on Congress to establish criteria for revoking a country’s tariff-free access to the US market if it fails to give US products treatment consistent with international trade rules.

The coalition also expressed concern about renewing beneficial trade treatment for African nations that restrict US imports.

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) offers tariff-free treatment on many products from developing countries. Last year, 130 nations received such benefits on about 5,000 products shipped to the United States. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is similar to GSP. Congress is set to extend AGOA, which expires in 2015, and to renew GSP, which expired at the end of July.

In a letter sent yesterday (18 November) to Congress, the coalition said that "barriers to US exports in GSP beneficiary countries are widespread and are often in flagrant violation of international obligations."

"The fact that these countries may maintain these restrictions on US goods while benefitting from unilateral preferential treatment for their products in the US market – and with little apparent concern about losing those tariff benefits – is clearly inconsistent with the intent of Congress, and we believe this must change," the coalition concluded.

In a separate letter to Congress, the coalition stated its strong opposition to a long-term or permanent extension of AGOA.

Either extension, said the coalition, would remove any incentive for beneficiary nations to move toward reciprocal trade relationships with the United States. A number of African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, have non-tariff trade barriers to US goods, most of which violate World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules.

In extending AGOA, the coalition is urging lawmakers to require, at a minimum, that beneficiary countries "refrain from erecting blatantly protectionist and WTO-incompatible barriers to our products."

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