GSP Program Remains in Limbo
Things are not looking very good right now for renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the long-standing duty preference program that expired on December 31, 2010.
Today’s Politico contains a story providing extensive background on the political issue involving sleeping bags that delayed the Senate vote on the GSP renewal bill passed by the House during the lame-duck session. The article indicates that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has placed a hold on the extension bill, shows no signs of backing down and as a result the future of the GSP program remains in "limbo."
As we reported, the U.S. Congress adjourned on December 22, 2010 without renewing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expires on December 31, 2010, or passing the numerous miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs) that eliminate customs duties on certain imported products.
While the Senate passed a scaled down version of the House-passed bill that included the GSP renewal (H.R. 6517) the final version of that bill which passed the Senate and was agreed to by the House did not contain the language renewing GSP or enacting the MTBs.
As a result, on January 1, 2011 U.S. importers of GSP-eligible merchandise started having to pay normal U.S. customs duties until the program is renewed by Congress.
The last time that the GSP program expired Congress renewed the program retroactively, which allowed importers to obtain refunds of any customs duties paid. However, the refund process takes time and needs to be closely monitored by the importers.
In the meantime, importers should work closely with their customs brokers to ensure that entries of GSP-eligible products are flagged with the GSP Special Program Indicator indicator (SPI) "A". Using that SPI will help facilitate any refunds when (or if) GSP is renewed retroactively.