Washington, D.C., July 2, 2012 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) has strongly supported the U.S. Government’s network of trade preference programs to accord qualifying developing countries duty-free access into the U.S. market. We believe that these preference programs have, over time, shown their value to U.S. consumers, to U.S. manufacturers seeking inputs, and to the beneficiary nations. But we have always seen these unilateral U.S. programs, including the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA), and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as conditional programs, not an entitlement. We believe that beneficiary countries’ eligibility for these preference programs is appropriately conditioned under U.S. law and regulation on meeting the eligibility criteria.
In this regard, while we at USCIB are generally pleased with the reports the Office of the United States Trade Representative sent to the Congress last Friday, June 29, we are quite concerned with the USTR determination to maintain access to ATPA trade preference benefits for the Government of Ecuador. With Peru and Colombia now moving up to full Free Trade Agreement partner status, Ecuador is the sole potential recipient of ATPA preferences going forward. Yet, in recent years, the Government of Ecuador has flaunted international and ATPA standards in key areas of rule-of-law and respect for arbitral awards. We appreciate that USTR has pointed out at some length these failings of the Government of Ecuador in their annual report to Congress last Friday. But we are disappointed that USTR has, nonetheless, opted to maintain Ecuador’s access to ATPA preference benefits. We urge that the Administration and the Congress reconsider this decision. It is inappropriate to reward the Government of Ecuador for its behavior in these key areas with preferential access to our market. Ecuador should only obtain these benefits by coming into compliance with the eligibility criteria in the ATPA statute.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, VP communications, USCIB
(212) 703-5043 or firstname.lastname@example.org