Last week, approximately 60 GSP advocates met with Members and staff for 90+ Congressional offices from 20+ states – or almost 20% of the 118th Congress. The Coalition for GSP’s lobby day was an opportunity for GSP users to share their expiration stories directly with key Members, including new House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith and many others.
On a bipartisan basis, Members expressed strong support for GSP and a little more optimism for the ability to renew GSP this year despite the challenges of the past two years. Beyond hearing directly from local companies affected by GSP expiration, each office was provided with one-pagers on GSP expiration costs for their state as well as how GSP expiration reversed a long-term decline in travel goods imports from China.
China’s benefits from the 2+ year GSP lapse was a common theme across meetings. Senators and Representatives were particularly interested in the interplay between GSP benefits and reducing reliance on China – a universally supported goal. In one meeting originally scheduled with staff, the Representative heard “GSP” from another room and came to join the discussion. They were one of several members of the new House Select Committee on China that mentioned the important role GSP can play .
Another point that many advocates made: GSP countries would prefer to improve commercial ties with the United States instead of China, but GSP expiration makes that harder. One staffer said it is embarrassing that the U.S. government has left business holding the bag for more than 2 years while China is aggressively competing all over the world. “It’s a failure” they said. As the attendee noted, “As the Congress is looking for the right legislative vehicle and right timing, China is paving roads in [GSP countries].”
Despite all the positive discussions, there were no silver bullets for renewing GSP quickly. We strongly encourage impacted companies – both those that attended the lobby day and those that could not – to answer our GSP expiration survey and consider joining the Coalition for GSP to support our efforts going forward. The lobby day was a great opportunity to build relationships and educate Congress on the harm from GSP expiration. Considerable work remains to turn that advocacy into legislative outcomes.