The Obama Administration ruled that certain non-down sleeping bags should be removed from eligibility for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) because of complaints from U.S.-based Exxel Outdoors, which makes sleeping bags at its plant in Alabama for Walmart and other mass merchandisers.

Congress created the GSP program in the Trade Act of 1974 to help developing countries expand their economies by allowing certain goods to be imported to the United States duty-free.

Exxel has been working successfully with U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, to have sleeping bags removed from GSP since December 2010, arguing those exported from Bangladesh were unfairly undercutting its business.

The California company makes the bag at a 250,000-square-foot factory in Alabama.

The Administration continues to review several country practices petitions that seek to withdraw or limit a country’s GSP benefits based on that country’s non-compliance with certain statutory eligibility criteria. As previously announced in the Federal Register, a public hearing will be held at USTR on January 24, 2012 to receive testimony on country practices petitions related to worker rights issues in Bangladesh, Georgia, Niger, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.