29 Oct 2019
U.S. Partially Rescinds Thailand’s GSP Benefits, Makes Other Changes to Programme
A 25 October presidential proclamation is making a number of changes to the Generalised System of Preferences following regular eligibility reviews, product reviews and beneficiary developing country assessments. Most notably, Thailand’s duty-free access to the U.S. market will be partially rescinded in about six months.
Effective 25 April 2020, GSP eligibility will be revoked for approximately one-third of eligible products from Thailand (valued at about US$1.3 billion), including all seafood products, based on that country’s failure to adequately provide internationally-recognised worker rights. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states that the list of affected products is focused on those for which the United States is a relatively important market for Thailand but Thailand accounts for a relatively small share of U.S. imports. USTR notes that the market access eligibility review of Thailand will remain open.
Effective 30 October, the United States is restoring approximately one-third of the US$36 million in GSP benefits removed for Ukraine in December 2017 for failure to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights. USTR states that in 2018 Ukraine passed new legislation aimed at improving the governance of collective management organisations that provides a framework to address concerns covered by the GSP review. However, this legislation has some shortcomings and USTR continues to have significant concerns with Ukraine’s IPR protection and enforcement.
Country Reviews Closed
USTR has closed with no loss of GSP eligibility reviews for Bolivia and Iraq, based on improvements in the protection of worker rights, and Uzbekistan, based on improvements in IPR protection and enforcement (though a separate worker rights review of Uzbekistan will remain open).
Country Reviews Initiated
USTR has self-initiated country reviews for Azerbaijan, based on concerns with its compliance with the GSP worker rights criterion, and South Africa, based on concerns with its compliance with the GSP IPR criterion in the area of copyright protection and enforcement.