GSP refunds tied to GSP program renewal

When the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program expired on July 31, 2013, last year, members of the trade believed that the legislation would be renewed with retroactive benefits, weeks or months later, as it had in past years.

Fast forward to today, and GSP has still not been renewed.  This is posing a problem for importers whose entries are now liquidating with those duties having been paid.

A flurry of activity took place last week to try to find a solution to this problem.  The NCBFAA suggested to its membership that importers of record would be best served by filing petitions and protests to protect their right to recovery.

Then on Friday, CBP issued a message informing the trade that neither of those avenues would be viable or accepted.

All signs are pointing to a requirement that the program be renewed, something that might be accomplished more easily with the President’s announcement of his intention to drop Russia from the list of GSP beneficiary countries.

Russia’s benefits amount to approximately $16 million dollars per year in lost duties and taxes under the program, certainly a small amount compared to some of the other countries featured in this chart.

GSP countries who export the most to the United States.

That turns the focus to Congress, specifically the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees.  Last week in Long Beach, Angela Ellard, Chief Trade Counsel and Trade Subcommittee Staff Director for Ways & Means, said Russia’s removal was a positive step and the Committee was seeking funding options, but she couldn’t guarantee a retroactive renewal.

Importers and others who are seeking ways to make their opinions known and to rally support for GSP have several options available to them.  One of the more well known coalitions operates a website called Renew GSP Today.  Alternately, communication directly with Members of Congress, especially if your representative serves on one of those two committees, is helpful as well.

There is no clear outcome for GSP at this point, but the hope is that despite the long gap in benefits and the negative impact is has placed on the cash flow of GSP-focused importers, something will happen in the very near future, especially now that entries are liquidating.

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