MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council is urging support for legislation that would extend the Generalized System of Preferences and provide a one-year extension of the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA).
The bill (HR4284) is scheduled to be presented to the House of Representatives on Monday, December 14 under suspension of the rules.
In a communication to Congressional offices, the NCC said, “It is vitally important that the ATPA be extended before it expires on December 31. Past experience shows that letting these programs lapse with the aim of renewing them retroactively is fraught with serious problems, not the least of which is harm to U.S. employment as well as key U.S. trade and foreign policy goals.”
The NCC, which noted that ATPA has enjoyed bipartisan support since 1992, emphasized that almost 2 million jobs in the United States and the region depend on ATPA preferences and the region has emerged as an important market for U.S. cotton and cotton product exports. Imports of apparel products from the Andean region that enter the United States duty-free under the program utilize U.S. grown and manufactured cotton, yarns, and fabrics. In 2008 U.S. raw cotton exports to the region totaled approximately $150 million and U.S. yarn and fabric exports to the region totaled $160 million.
“However, faced with the uncertainty of continued trade benefits,” the NCC stated, “some apparel production has recently shifted out of the Andean countries, depriving the region of much-needed jobs and U.S. cotton growers and U.S. textile manufacturers and their employees of valued customers for their products.
“Extension of the Andean program is critical to ensure this region regains its footing and will provide an important bridge until a free trade agreement with Peru can be fully utilized and a similar agreement with Colombia can be considered, approved, and implemented.”