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The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has initiated a public review for possible designation of Burma and Laos as beneficiary countries of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Containing notice of a public hearing to be convened on June 4, and with a deadline for final submissions on June 25, 2013, the USTR has begun consultations on whether Burma and Laos should be considered as beneficiary developing countries under the GSP program, and, if designated, whether either country should also be designated as a least-developed beneficiary developing country under GSP.
The US GSP program, as authorized by the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, provides for duty-free treatment of designated articles imported from any country that the US President designates as a GSP "beneficiary developing country." Additional trade benefits under the GSP are available to any country that the President also designates as a GSP "least-developed beneficiary developing country."
Burma was previously designated a beneficiary developing country under GSP but its trade benefits under GSP were suspended, effective July 1, 1989, as a result of a US presidential determination that the country was not meeting the statutory GSP eligibility requirements regarding internationally recognized worker rights. Laos has not previously been considered for eligibility for GSP trade benefits.
The Governments of Burma and Laos, respectively, have each recently informed the USTR of their interest in being considered for designation as eligible for GSP trade benefits.
The US GSP program is designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for almost 5,000 products when imported from one of 128 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including 42 least-developed countries. US businesses imported USD18.5bn worth of products under the GSP program in 2011, including many inputs used in US manufacturing.
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