So should any Member of Congress or Administration official that wants supply chains to move out of China. We’re not talking about crazy cousins or wet carpets or squirrels in trees. We’re talking about Christmas lights, one of the thousands of products impacted by continued expiration of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program.
Fun, old-fashioned family Christmas lights faced $30+ million in extra tariffs due to GSP expiration. Regular tariffs on Christmas lights are high (8%), and there’s been a huge shift in sourcing from China to GSP countries in the last few years to escape 25% Section 301 tariffs.
In the last 12 months, Christmas lights imports from GSP countries ($395 million) were 6 times higher than from China ($64 million). As shown in the graph, the current sourcing is nearly the opposite of 2017, when China accounted for $399 million out of $472 million (84%) of all U.S. Christmas light imports, compared to just 14% for GSP countries. Yet imports from China dropped precipitously after Section 301 tariffs increased to 25% in May 2019 and GSP countries were to fill the void (aka save the holidays).
Unfortunately, there are no good sourcing options for companies that want to provide affordable strings of Christmas lights (whether 2 or 250 strings). Even though imports from China face 33% tariffs (8% regular + 25% Section 301), American companies have paid considerably more tariffs on imports from GSP countries that should be duty-free than on imports from China and all other countries combined.
It’s not a controversial program: GSP’s support is so broad and bipartisan that no sitting Member of the House of Representatives voted against GSP renewal when it last came up in 2018. And yet GSP expiration is about to enter year 2 and American companies already have paid $1+ billion in extra tariffs.
If any of you [Members of Congress] are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one: renew GSP.