Congress allowed the GSP program to expire on December 31. With tariff savings of nearly $3 million per day, GSP expiration likely has cost American companies over $70 million in new taxes. We recently spoke with Patrice Gerber, Founder/CEO of small business Kouboo LLC in Laguna Beach, California – one of those hurt by GSP expiration.
Kouboo sells home decor products that are handmade from natural materials, such as rattan vines. Kouboo was started by Patrice and Joey Gerber with products sourced from the Philippines, and sourcing expanded to Indonesia and Myanmar. The handmade nature of the products provides significant employment opportunities in GSP countries, especially for women weavers in poor, rural areas.
As Kouboo has grown, GSP savings rose dramatically: from a few hundred dollars per month in 2013 to a few thousand dollars per week in 2020. So has the number of women artisans supported by Kouboo’s GSP imports into the United States.
In the first clip, Patrice explains how higher tariffs from GSP expiration, along with global shipping delays and the pandemic, combine to create the “perfect storm” for his business. While Kouboo converted one part-time worker into a full-time worker on January 1 (it’s first non-family member), the impact of higher tariffs plus higher shipping costs forced Kouboo to put plans for another full-time hire on hold.
In the second clip, Patrice provides information on how their products are manufactured, and how GSP/their products provide employment opportunities, especially to rural women. Since men’s agricultural income typically isn’t enough, the women’s income reduces pressure for children to work – improving access to education – as well as pressure to leave the rural areas for urban ones in search of jobs. The unique nature of the products, and limited alternative employment options in the villages, means lost GSP hurts many without even the possibility that someone else could gain.
Kouboo is a great example of how lost GSP hurts companies and workers in both the United States and developing countries. If you’re like Kouboo and harmed by GSP expiration, please add your name to our free GSP supporter list.