President Barack Obama signed into law Monday the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 and Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015).
Both bills, passed by Congress last week, are key pieces of the trade agenda supported by all major trade groups representing the athletic and outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment industry.
“The two pieces of legislation the President signed into law today will give clothing and shoe companies more certainty and will reduce costs, which, in turn, is good for U.S. consumers and trade-based jobs in the United States, including the four million U.S. workers employed by our industry,” said Juanita D. Duggan, presdient and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
A statement issued by The White House said that the rules laid out by Congress in the TPA bill ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the Obama Administration is now negotiating with 11 other Pacific Rim countries can put in place high, enforceable standards that reflect US. values on the environment, on workers’ rights, on transparency, and more. The TPA stipulates, for instance, that any trade deals negotiated include a minimum wage, a band on forced labor, worker safety protections, protection for the oceans, combat illegal wildlife trafficking and combat illegal logging.
“With the focus now turning toward the TPP negotiations, we’re hopeful that the Administration advocates on behalf of flexible rules so that our members can fully benefit from what would be the largest free trade agreement to-date.
“Finally, we are especially pleased to see the preferences legislation enacted into law. Several measures within the preferences package are unique to our industry. These measures include the GSP update, which will enable products such as phone cases, luggage, and handbags to be included in the GSP program. Even more immediately, we can now begin a process that will enable companies to take advantage of the retroactive renewal of the GSP program saving companies millions of dollars in duties already paid, and ensuring that new tariff costs won’t be incurred.
“We thank the President and the Congressional leaders for their commitment to these free trade measures, and look forward to their speedy implementation.”
Trade Promotion Authority enables the completion of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the free trade agreement being negotiated with 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim. These 12 countries represent 39 percent of the world economy.
The trade preferences law renews the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for ten years, extends the Haiti HOPE/HELP trade program until 2025, and retroactively renews the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, while updating it to remove an exclusion on travel goods. The law also makes important clarifications to the tariff classifications for protective active footwear and performance outerwear.