Meeting with USTR Delegation – December 14th 2017

Members of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) delegation visit to Uzbekistan in December of 2017 invited AmCham members to participate in a luncheon during the Council Meeting of the U.S. – Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA).
During the luncheon, AmCham members had the opportunity to meet with senior officials from the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan who were participating in the council meeting. Representatives from Afghanistan were also participating as observers.
The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed in Washington, DC, in June 2004, between the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. TIFA is a high-level platform for dialogue intended to strengthen trade and investment ties between the United States, the nations of Central Asia, and Afghanistan.
AmCham Uzbekistan members and USTR delegation representatives discussed the trade, transit, and investment environment in both Central Asia, and the United States. USTR representatives spoke of the challenges of expanding Central Asian exports under the implementation of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries.
Programs like GSP provide opportunities for nations of the developing world to leverage trade to grow their economies. GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program. Established by the Trade Act of 1974, GSP promotes economic development by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from one of 120 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
The incentive for Uzbekistan and other GSP countries are reduced import tariffs to the United States. As an example, the primary Uzbek export product currently shipped to the United States under GSP is dried peppers (HTS 09042160 Fruits of the genus Capsicum, other than paprika or anaheim and ancho pepper, dried, not crushed or ground).
The normal US tariff rate for dried peppers is 2.5¢/kg when imported from China or other non-GSP countries. Imports of dried peppers from Uzbekistan or other GSP nation are duty free if proper documentation shows that it was imported under the GSP Program. GSP therefore creates a competitive advantage for Uzbekistan. With over 3,500 products covered by GSP, any Uzbek export of any of these products to the United States results in a competitive advantage over non-GSP countries.
Fair and reciprocal trade is an essential prerequisite for the validity of GSP. Issues such as violations of intellectual property rights, or the exploitation of child labor, are grounds for exclusion from the GSP countries list.
Legal authorization for the GSP program expired on December 31, 2017 (19 U.S.C. Section 2465). As a result, imports to the United States after that date which were previously eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP are now subject to regular tariffs. At this time it is not known when or if Congress will reauthorize GSP, but many Members have voiced support for reauthorization. The Trump Administration supports Congressional action to renew and is working with Members toward this end. GSP authorization has expired on several previous occasions, most recently in 2013. In previous cases when Congressional action has resulted in reimplementation of GSP, retroactive credits were made available to importers seeking to recoup duties paid.

USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President. Through an interagency structure, USTR coordinates trade policy, resolves disagreements, and frames issues for presidential decision. USTR also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), is on the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, is a non-voting member of the Export-Import Bank Board of Directors, and is a member of the National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Policies.