January 12, 2016
News Release 16-009
Inv. No(s). 332-556
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
USITC Begins Investigation Concerning Possible Modifications to the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences for Additions, Removals, and Competitive Need Limitation Waivers

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) is seeking input for a newly initiated investigation concerning possible modifications to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The investigation, Generalized System of Preferences: Possible Modifications, 2015 Review (Investigation No. 332-556), was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter  received on December 30, 2015.

As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, will provide advice on the likely impact on U.S. imports, competing U.S. industries, and U.S. consumers of the addition of the following Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) subheadings and statistical reporting numbers:

For all GSP-eligible countries: 

  • 2204.21.20 (effervescent wine),
  • 3301.13.00 (essential oils of lemon),
  • 7202.11.50 (ferromanganese containing by weight more than 4 percent of carbon).

For all GSP-eligible countries, least-developed beneficiary developing countries (LDBDC), and/or African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) beneficiary developing countries:

  • 24 HTS subheadings and statistical reporting numbers for certain handbags and travel goods products (4202.11.00, 4202.11.0030, 4202.11.0090, 4202.12.40, 4202.21.60, 4202.21.90, 4202.22.15, 4202.22.45, 4202.31.60, 4202.32.40, 4202.32.80, 4202.92.15, 4202.92.20, 4202.92.45, 4202.99.90, 4202.12.2020, 4202.12.2050, 4202.12.8030, 4202.12.8070, 4202.22.8050, 4202.32.9550, 4202.32.9560, 4202.91.0030, and 4202.91.0090).

The USTR also requested that the USITC provide advice on the likely impact on U.S. imports, competing U.S. industries, and U.S. consumers of the removal of five HTS subheadings for specified countries. The removals in consideration are:

  • 3204.20.10 (fluorescent brightening agent 32) from India and Indonesia,
  • 3204.20.80 (other fluorescent brightening agents) from India and Indonesia,
  • 3907.60.00 (PET resin also known as polyethylene terephthalate in primary forms) from India,
  • 3920.62.00 (nonadhesive plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, noncellular, of polyethylene terephthalate) from Brazil,
  • 3921.90.40 (nonadhesive plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, flexible, nesoi, of noncellular plastics) from Brazil.

In addition, the USITC will provide advice on the likely impact on U.S. imports, competing U.S. industries, and U.S. consumers of competitive need limitation waivers for specified countries. "Competitive need limitations" 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.  With respect to the competitive need limit in section 503(c)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the 1974 Act, the USITC, as requested, will use the dollar value limit of $170 million. The eight HTS subheadings in consideration are:

  • 0804.10.60 (dates, fresh or dried, whole, without pits, packed in units weighing over 4.6 kg) from Tunisia,
  • 1509.1040 (virgin olive oil and its fractions, whether or not refined, not chemically modified, weighing with the immediate container 18 kg or over) from Tunisia,
  • 2102.20.60 (single-cell micro-organisms, dead, excluding yeasts, but not including vaccines of heading 3002) from Brazil,
  • 2202.90.90 (nonalcoholic beverages, nesoi, not including fruit or vegetable juices of heading 2009) from Thailand,
  • 2804.29.00 (rare gases, other than argon) from Ukraine,
  • 4202.92.04 (insulated beverage bag with outer surface textiles, interior only flexible plastic container storing/dispensing beverage thru flexible tubing) from Philippines,
  • 6911.10.37 (porcelain or china, other than bone china, household table and kitchenware in sets in which aggregate value of articles are over $56, but not over $200) from Indonesia, and
  • 8708.50.95 (parts and accessories of motor vehicle of 8701, nesoi, 8702 and 8704-8705, half-shafts) from India.

The USITC will submit its confidential report to USTR by April 28, 2016. As soon as possible thereafter, the USITC will, as requested by USTR, issue a public version of the report containing only the unclassified sections, with any business confidential information and classified information deleted.

The USITC is seeking input for its new investigation from all interested parties and requests that the information focus on the articles for which the USITC is requested to provide information and advice. The USITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation at 9:30 a.m. on February 24, 2016. Requests to appear at the public hearing should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on February 1, 2016, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

The USITC also welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary to the Commission at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on February 29, 2016.  All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

Further information on the scope of this investigation and appropriate submissions appears in the USITC’s notice of investigation, dated January 12, 2015. The notice can be obtained from the USITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov) or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or 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 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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