July 8, 2011
News Release 11-078
Inv. No. 332-527
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819


The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched an investigation to assess the probable economic effect of allowing products from the world's least-developed countries (LDCs) to enter the United States free of all duties and quotas.

The investigation, Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free, Quota-Free Treatment for Imports from Least-Developed Countries, 2012 Report, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter dated June 16, 2011.

In his request letter, the USTR noted that members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached an agreement at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December 2005 to provide duty-free, quota-free market access to products from LDCs, as defined by the United Nations. The United States will implement the initiative together with the results of the overall Doha round multi-lateral trade negotiations. The USITC prepared a report on the probable economic effect of providing duty-free, quota-free access to LDCs in 2007 at the USTR's request. The USTR requested the update to address market changes since 2007.

As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, will provide advice to the USTR as to the probable economic effect of providing duty-free, quota-free treatment for imports from LDCs on industries in the United States producing like or directly competitive products, consumers, imports under U.S. preference programs, and imports from U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) partners. The investigation will cover each article in chapters 1 through 97 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States for which U.S. tariffs or tariff-rate quotas remain, taking into account preferential tariff treatment currently being provided to LDCs under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Caribbean Basin Initiative programs and that could be provided under the Generalized System of Preferences if Congress renews that program. The USITC's advice will be based on the 2010 HTS nomenclature and on 2010 trade and tariff rate data. Additionally, the USITC will, to the extent possible, evaluate the articles in chapters 50 through 63 of the HTS to identify products not currently imported from LDCs for which imports could potentially increase following the granting of DFQF access and the possible effect of trade diversion on U.S. imports from countries with which the United States has FTAs or preferential trade programs, including countries to which the United States is a major exporter of yarns and fabrics.

The USITC expects to submit its report, which will be confidential, to the USTR by February 16, 2012.

The USITC will not hold a public hearing in connection with this investigation; however, it welcomes written submissions for the record from all interested parties. Written submissions (one original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436, and should be submitted at the earliest practical date, but no later than 5:15 p.m. on September 16, 2011. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

Further information on the scope of the investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the USITC's notice of investigation, dated July 8, 2011, which can be obtained from the USITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov) or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at 202-205-2000.

USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subject investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigations reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.

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