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GSP Trade Agreement Passed With Retroactive Provision Intact

In a significant political victory for the RV industry as well as hundreds of industries across America, President Obama will sign into law tomorrow legislation passed last week by the U.S. Senate and House to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through July 21, 2013.

For more than three decades, GSP has provided duty-free treatment to selected goods imported from more than 130 developing countries.  Approximately three-quarters of U.S. imports using GSP are raw materials, parts and components, or machinery and equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States for domestic consumption or for export. In this fashion, GSP boosts the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and lowers the cost of consumer goods for American families.

This is certainly true as it applies to the RV industry, which is heavily reliant on luan, a type of strong flexible wood that is only available from southeast Asia. There is no other wood product that is strong enough yet flexible and light enough to be used in certain RV applications. Due to this reliance, GSP expiration had been costing American RV manufacturers millions of dollars a month. With the retroactive renewal of the GSP, RV manufacturers are now free to use that money to create jobs and lower prices.

GSP Refund Process Announced

This GSP provision takes effect 15 days after enacted, on approximately November 5. The renewal will be retroactive from January 1, 2011 and extend through July 31, 2013.

Goods imported after GSP expired on December 31, 2010 but before the effective date of the renewal provision that would have qualified for duty-free treatment or other preferential treatment under the GSP statue had that entry been made before GSP expired, will be eligible to be liquidated or reliquidated, with a refund of duty.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be following the same procedures it did last time GSP expired and was retroactively renewed.  As a result, filers who filed their entries with a GSP SPI (Special Program Indicators), “A” or “A+”, on CBP Form 7501 will receive automatic refunds without having to take any additional steps.

For entries which did not use the GPS SPIs, a request for liquidation or reliquidation will need to be filed with CBP no later than 180 days after October 21 that contains sufficient information to enable CBP to locate the entry, or to reconstruct the entry if it cannot be located.  Any amounts owed would be paid, without interest, no later than 90 days after the date of liquidation or reliquidation.

RVIA Lobbied for Passage

RVIA had been lobbying for the renewal of GSP prior to its expiration at the end of last year. RVIA staff took the case for renewal directly to members of Congress, coordinated a grassroots effort to support GSP renewal through RVAct.com, and coordinated visits between RV manufacturers and suppliers and their members of Congress during RVIA’s annual Advocacy Day to personally drive home just how harmful the expiration of GSP had been to the RV industry.

“This has been a real bottom line issue for RV manufacturers and suppliers,” said RVIA Director of Government Affairs Matt Wald. “The additional duty imposed with the expiration of GSP was a dollar to dollar increase to the cost of building RVs. We worked hard with our wood supply partners to have the GSP extended in the face of total gridlock in Washington and we are happy to see common sense prevail.”

Questions about the GSP renewal or duty refund process can be directed to Matt Wald, RVIA Director of Government Affairs at (703) 620-6003 x. 313 or mwald@rvia.org. 

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