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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Renée Johnson
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Agricultural imports under the GSP totaled $2.2 billion in 2009, about 11% of all U.S. GSP imports. Leading agricultural imports include processed foods and food processing inputs, sugar and sugar confectionery, cocoa, processed and fresh fruits and vegetables, beverages and drinking waters, olive oil, processed meats, and miscellaneous food preparations and inputs for further processing. The majority of these imports are from Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, India, and the Philippines. Some in Congress have continued to call for changes to the program that could limit GSP benefits to certain countries, among other changes. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. Congress made changes to the program in 2006, tightening its requirements on imports under certain circumstances. 

In the past few years, Congress has extended GSP through a series of short-term extensions. Currently, the GSP is set to expire December 31, 2010 (P.L. 111-124). Also, broader reform of the GSP and other U.S. trade preference programs is expected in 2010, which will likely continue to make the GSP a legislative issue in the 111th Congress. Leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee continue to express an interest in evaluating the effectiveness of U.S. trade preference programs, including the GSP.

Date of Report: May 4, 2010
Number of Pages:9
Order Number:RS22541
Price: $29.95

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