U.S. Reinstates Trade Preference Benefits for Liberia
"By reinstating Liberia’s GSP eligibility the United States is providing strong support to recently elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s efforts to increase employment, diversify exports, and stabilize society," said Ambassador Portman. "Liberia is emerging from nearly two decades of war. GSP will be a useful tool in helping to rebuild Liberia and bring hope to its people.
The benefits were suspended in 1990 because of worker rights concerns. President Sirleaf has made improving worker rights a high priority. This includes repeal of a decree to prohibit strikes and inviting the International Labor Organization (ILO) to assist Liberia in bringing its laws and practices into conformity with its ILO obligations.
Liberia 's reinstated benefits under the GSP program will become effective in two stages. Eligibility as a developed beneficiary developing country (BDC) will occur fifteen days from today, allowing Liberia to export a number of products duty-free to the United States. After a 60-day period of Congressional review (which begins today), Liberia will become a least developed BDC, which will provide Liberian businesses with the ability to export additional products to the United States free of duty.
The GSP program was created by the Trade Act of 1974 to promote economic development of developing nations. Under the program, 137 beneficiary developing countries export approximately 3,450 different products duty-free to the United States. Least developed BDCs are eligible to export another 1,400 products duty-free. In the first 11 months of 2005, exports that have entered the United States duty-free under the GSP program have amounted to nearly $25 billion in trade. Almost all textile and apparel products are ineligible for duty-free treatment under the GSP program.
As a result of the Administration’s reinstatement of Liberia’s GSP benefits, nearly one-quarter of Liberia’s current non-rubber exports will now enter the United States duty-free.