April 16,2015

Press Contact:

Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515

Senate, House Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support American Manufacturers, Strengthen Trade Ties with Developing Countries

WASHINGTON – Today, the leaders of the U.S. Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees announced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help advance America’s trade priorities and better facilitate U.S. trade with developing countries.

The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 introduced by Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.), would renew both the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and provide continued trade benefits for Haiti. Both the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees have jurisdiction over international trade policy.

“By strengthening trade relations through the renewal of trade preference programs like AGOA, GSP, HOPE and HELP we can better promote trade liberalization and economic reform around the world,” said Hatch. “These programs have helped to make trade with the developing world mutually beneficial, worked to reduce global poverty, and created growth and opportunity for American job creators by reducing tariffs and lowering costs. I’m pleased we were able to come together and produce consensus legislation to help move America’s trade priorities forward.”

“This long-term extension and update of the African Growth and Opportunity Act improves this important development and trade program in a way that’s good for everyone. It provides certainty for sub-Saharan African countries, investors, and workers while strengthening our economic and political ties with Africa,” Wyden said. “Our AGOA bill makes it easier to crack down on bad actors and make sure that countries stay strictly in line with the important eligibility criteria. By retroactively extending our Generalized System of Preferences, our legislation will save American businesses an estimated $2 million a day. Finally, by providing for a forward-looking extension of our preference program for Haiti, this bill helps foster development for our neighbors.”

"This legislation will promote American trade and strengthen our economic ties with important countries,” said Ryan. “It will encourage our friends in Africa and Haiti to pursue free enterprise and solidify the rule of law. This legislation demonstrates that more trade can create opportunity at home and promote our economic values abroad."

“Promoting growth in developing countries has been a critical component of U.S. trade policy for 30 years.  GSP has been the cornerstone of that policy, and its renewal is both welcome and long overdue,” said Levin. “Our special programs for Africa and Haiti are critical to providing their workers and businesses with meaningful market access opportunities that will enhance investment and job creation.”

Renewal & Enhancement of AGOA:
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) helps African countries work towards long-term sustainable economic development by promoting international trade and investment with other countries. The program facilitates increased trade with the beneficiary countries by lowering U.S. tariffs to their exports.

The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 extends AGOA for ten years, including a ten year extension of third-country fabric provisions, which are important to nurture the development of the textile and apparel industry in Africa. The measure simplifies rules of origin, promotes greater regional integration and provides greater certainty in the operation of AGOA. The measure will also strengthen congressional oversight through additional notification and reporting requirements and improves transparency and participation in the AGOA review process.

Renewal of GSP:

American companies have paid nearly $2 million per day in taxes since GSP expired on July 31, 2013. One of the oldest and broadest U.S. preference programs, GSP provides duty-free entry for approximately 5,000 agricultural and non-agricultural products from 126 designated beneficiary countries.

The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 extends the program through December 31, 2017 and provides retroactive relief to eligible products that were imported during GSP’s lapse.

Trade Benefits for Haiti:

The Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE) and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) were established to provide trade benefits to Haiti.

The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 extends the HOPE and HELP programs for products from Haiti through September 30, 2025. Currently the program supports approximately 30,000 jobs in Haiti and promotes export growth and economic development. Program extension will encourage additional investment in Haiti.

For a full summary of the AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 click here.