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USITC Releases Report on Possible Modifications to the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences and Competitive Need Limitation Waivers

August 31, 2015
News Release 15-081
Inv. No. 332-554
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
USITC Releases Report on Possible Modifications to the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences and Competitive Need Limitation Waivers

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today released a public version of its confidential report on possible modifications to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The investigation, Generalized System of Preferences: Possible Modifications, 2014 Review, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, submitted a confidential version of the report to the USTR on August 21, 2015. The USTR requested that the USITC issue a public version of the report containing only the unclassified sections, with any business confidential information deleted.

The investigation provides advice on the likely impact on competing U.S. industries of competitive need limitation waivers specified in section 503(c)(2)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974 for two Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) subheadings for Thailand. "Competitive need limits" represent the maximum import level of a product that is eligible for duty-free treatment under the GSP. Once the limit is reached, trade is considered "competitive," benefits are no longer needed, and imports of the article become ineligible for GSP treatment, unless a waiver is granted.

The HTS subheadings being considered for competitive need limitation waivers are:  2008.19.15 (prepared or preserved coconut) from Thailand and 7408.29.10 (copper wire alloys, wire, coated or plated with metal) from Thailand. The USITC also provided advice with respect to whether like or directly competitive products were being produced in the United States on January 1, 1995, and the probable economic effect on total U.S. imports, as well as on consumers, of the requested waivers.  The USITC provided the requested data separately and individually for each U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule subheading subject to this request.

The USITC also provided data on the addition of five HTS subheadings for least-developed developing beneficiary countries (LDDBC); the data included U.S. production, imports, exports, and consumption figures for five cotton articles for the period 2012-2014.

The HTS subheadings being considered are:  5201.00.18 (cotton, not carded or combed, having a staple length under 28.575 mm (1-1/8 inches), n/harsh or rough, nesoi); 5201.00.28 (cotton not carded or combed, harsh or rough, staple length of 29.36875 mm or more but under 34.925 mm & white in color, nesoi); 5201.00.38 (cotton, not carded or combed, staple length of 28.575 mm or more but under 34.925 mm, nesoi); 5202.99.30 (cotton card strips made from cotton waste

having staple length under 30.1625 mm & lap, sliver & roving waste, nesoi); and 5203.00.30 (cotton fibers, carded or combed, of cotton fiber processed, but not spun, nesoi).

Generalized System of Preferences: Possible Modifications, 2014 Review (Investigation No. 332-554, USITC publication 4562, August 2015) is available on the USITC's Internet site at

USITC general factfinding investigations cover matters related to tariffs or trade. The investigations are generally conducted at the request of USTR, 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 subjects 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 investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.

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