Think products that are imported into the United States free of tariffs (taxes) under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program don’t matter to you? Think again. Previously, we’ve shown some of the products found around the house that people (and their pets) use every day. But that’s just the beginning: here’s what one raid of the pantry to search for GSP imports found!
Not only are the above products – olive oil, prepared Thai and Indian foods, canned fruits, and spices – typically imported under GSP, all of the these brands are imported by American companies on the GSP supporter list! Most of them aren’t even available in the United States, so the choice for families is simple: buy imports or nothing!
The olive oil is imported from Tunisia by CHO America in Baytown, Texas. Even if you don’t recognize this brand, there’s a good chance you’ve tasted olive oil imported under GSP: Sovena USA in Rome, New York supplies more than 50 percent of private-label olive oils in the U.S. retail marketplace. Sovena imports olive oil from Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt under GSP.
Connecticut companies Andre Prost in Old Saybrook and Preferred Brands International in Stamford import the “A Taste of Thai” and “Tasty Bite” packaged foods. If GSP were in place today, it would eliminate imports taxes of 6.4 percent on both of these products. Yet as a result of GSP expiration, it has cost an extra $850,000 per month to get these same foods into the United States.
Dole Packaged Foods in Westlake Village, California imports a variety of canned fruit products under GSP. These pineapples come from Thailand, but may also come from the Philippines and other GSP countries. GSP benefits help keep costs low for many tropical fruits and juices that would not be available on a year-round basis if not for imports.
Finally, the bottom row is for Sparks, Maryland-based McCormick & Company, one of the newest GSP supporter list companies. Not all McCormick spices benefit from GSP, but if you have as many different spices in your pantry as we do, you probably have GSP products in your home, too!
In each of these cases – the difference between lower and higher prices for American families is congressional action on GSP. Imagine the uproar if the sales tax on numerous food products doubled or tripled (or worse). In effect, that’s what happens when GSP expires. But since the taxes are collected at the border instead of at the cash register, most customers will remain unaware. If that changed, those customers might leave the market with a bitter taste in the mouth.
Imports Week Addendum: Do you see the fresh fruit on the left side of the picture? While not GSP products, they’re still imports and American families would be worse off without them, so in the spirit of Imports Work for America Week we’ve included their details. The bananas can be imported duty free from all countries, in this case from Costa Rica. If you’re incredibly perceptive, you’ll also see a mango and a cantaloupe – both from Guatemala. Both are eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP and may have claimed GSP in past years, but now they enter the United States under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). If not for GSP and/or DR-CAFTA, both products would be subject to tariffs – 29.8 percent in the case of the cantaloupe! In our experience, duty-free cantaloupe tastes just a little bit sweeter.