US announces expansion of trade preferences for LDBDCs

Kathmandu, July 6

The United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office has announced the annual product review under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) programme. This measure adds new duty-free status for travel goods — such as luggage, backpacks, handbags, and wallets — for least developed beneficiary developing countries (LDBDCs), including Nepal.

The new rule makes these products eligible for duty-free status beginning July 1, as per a media release issued today by the US Embassy in Nepal. US imports of travel and luggage goods products totalled almost $10 billion in 2015.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Nepali businesses to expand their exports to US markets,” the release quotes US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz as saying. “A strong commitment to open-market policies, a stable and transparent legal environment that secures property rights, policies that foster dynamic entrepreneurial activity, and strategic infrastructure investments will help Nepal make the most of this opportunity.”

In 2015, Nepal ranked second, after Cambodia, of all LDC exporters of luggage products to the United States. Nepal’s exports of these products have grown seven per cent since 2014, totalling $1.8 million in 2015.

US trade preference programmes provide opportunities for many of the world’s poorest countries to use trade to grow their economies and climb out of poverty. At 40 years old, GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme.

Under GSP, the United States provides duty-free treatment for many imports from beneficiary developing countries, and additional products for LDBDCs. About 5,000 products from 122 beneficiary developing countries and territories, including 43 least-developed countries, are eligible for duty-free treatment when exported to the United States under the GSP programme. Nearly 1,500 of these products are reserved for duty-free treatment for LDBDCs only.