Last month we looked at import trends for cast acrylic sheet and face masks. The products are similar in that both have seen increased demand due to Covid-19. Based on new data, that demand did not slow in August.

For cast acrylic sheets, GSP imports reached over $9 million in August. That was nearly $2 million more than July 2020 and nearly triple the $3+ million of GSP imports in August 2019.

Imports of “made-up textiles” from Thailand, including face masks, also reached new highs in August. Record imports came despite lost GSP in April 2020, as demand for face masks due to Covid-19 far outweigh the negative impacts of the new 7% tariff associated with lost GSP.

And that gets to a key difference between the products: the contribution of GSP to Covid-19 response. For acrylics, GSP is making needed materials more affordable. As a result of the Covid import surge, GSP tariffs savings for acrylics in the first 8 months of 2020 already exceed full-year 2019 GSP savings. Conversely, Thai face masks show the potential lose-lose nature of “using GSP revocation as leverage over beneficiary countries”: Thai producers are thriving while Americans trying to slow the spread of Covid-19 must pay more for masks. It’s hard to see how that dynamic leads to better outcomes for the United States.

Of course, acrylics will face new tariffs on January 1, 2021 if Congress fails to renew GSP. Companies that import under GSP and want Congress to renew it before December 31 can take any/all of the following steps to help advocate for renewal: