According to new research from the Coalition for GSP, expiration of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program cost American companies at least $88 million in March 2021. Congressional authorization for GSP expired on December 31, 2020.
March was the most expensive month yet of GSP expiration: the $88 million in extra tariffs paid far exceeded the $65-$70 million paid in January and February. In the first three months of expiration, American companies paid at least $225 million in extra taxes as a result of GSP expiration.
Companies in 28 states paid at least $1 million in tariffs in the first quarter of 2021 due to GSP expiration. The map below shows estimated tariffs for products claiming GSP paid by state.
In Oregon, the March tariff costs exceeded January and February combined. It wasn’t just one product. March was the most expensive month yet for Oregon GSP importers of optical equipment and coconut flour from the Philippines, sweeteners and plywood from Indonesia, rubber gloves from Thailand, and wooden doors from Brazil. And it wasn’t just Oregon: companies in Delaware, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming all paid more in March than in January and February combined.
As is so often the case, GSP expiration contributes to larger national issues such as surging lumber costs (WSJ: Lumber Prices Break New Records, Adding Heat to Home Prices, CNN: New homes cost $36,000 more because of an epic shortage of lumber). In the first quarter, the GSP tariff impact on plywood and veneers grew 118% from $4.8 million in 2020 to $10.5 million in 2021. (In 2020, these were savings, but in 2021 they must be paid due to expiration.) The tariff impact nearly tripled compared to 2019. Plywood and veneers ranked 6th in terms of GSP tariff impacts so far in 2021, up from 25th in 2019. It’s not just plywood and flooring-related products: GSP imports of wooden doors are up 40% in 2021 and builders joinery are up 96%.
The data on tariffs paid is a conservative estimate, and the real figure likely is higher. Why? Estimates only capture products that continued to claim GSP despite expiration. Yet imports of many products that traditionally get GSP have not claimed it in 2021. Tariffs paid on those imports still would be eligible for refunds in the event of a retroactive renewal, but importers would need to file manual requests.
GSP expiration is already costing American jobs and raising prices for American companies that need inputs and consumers that purchase finished goods. It is critical that Congress renew GSP – with refunds for tariffs paid – as soon as possible. To help the Coalition for GSP educate policymakers on who is hurt by expiration (and how), companies are strongly encouraged to: