A bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging the Trump administration not to terminate India’s ability to provide U.S. businesses with duty-free imports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The letter, which came from 25 Members of Congress who are active on trade issues, came just as the 60-day minimum notice period for terminating benefits expires.
On March 4, the Trump administration announced its intent to terminate eligibility for India and Turkey under the GSP program. Instead of terminating benefits, the members of Congress today asked the administration to continue negotiating a deal with India that protects jobs. The letter notes that American businesses – many of them small businesses – would pay hundreds of million in added tariffs if benefits were terminated.
“No party – in the United States or India – would benefit from terminating GSP benefits,” the letter states. “American companies that rely on duty-free treatment for India under GSP will pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new taxes. In the past, even temporary lapses in such benefits have caused companies to lay off workers, cut salaries and benefits, and delay or cancel job-creating investments in the United States.”
The letter comes on the heels of a recent survey of American businesses who use GSP that showed that termination would cost American jobs, increase Chinese imports and disrupt supply chains for American companies. On April 12th, Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner also sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative reiterating Congressional support for the GSP program in light of the termination notice. On April 4th, over 430 U.S. businesses and associations sent a letter to Congressional trade leaders asking for their help in delaying termination.
Today’s letter was led by Representative Jim Himes (D-CT-4) and signed by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Cedric Richmond (D-LA-2), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4), Harley Rouda (D-CA-48), Susan Davis (D-CA-53), Ami Bera (D-CA-7), Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Deb Haaland (D-NM-1), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-7), Chris Stewart (R-UT-2), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Scott Peters (D-CA-52), Pete Olson (R-TX-22), Cindy Axne (D-IA-3), Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12) and Julia Brownley (D-CA-26).