GSP/TAA Reinstated; U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama Signed Into Law

On October 21, 2011, President Obama signedinto law: 

    *    H.R. 2832, the "Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011," which extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP program through July 31, 2013, and reauthorizes the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program through December 31, 2013;
    *    H.R. 3080, the "United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act," which implements the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA);
    *    H.R. 3078, the "United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act," which implements the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and extends the Andean Trade Preference Act; and
    *    H.R. 3079, the "United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act," which implements the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.

The GSP/TAA program, renewed retroactively to January 1, 2011, will remain in force through July 31, 2013. Along with the program, the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) was increased from 0.21% to 0.3464%. The increase applies to entries from October 1, 2011 to June 30, 2021. 

The minimum MPF rate of $25 and the maximum MPF of $485 were not changed. However, at the old rate importers reached the maximum MPF with an entry valued over $230,952. Under the new rate, the maximum $485 MPF will be reached with an entry valued over $140,011. 

The FTAs between the U.S. and South Korea, Panama, and Colombia were negotiated more than four years ago. The FTAs include provisions concerning protecting U.S. intellectual property, guaranteeing market access for the U.S. manufacturers, the environment, and labor rights. 

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that, pursuant to the South Korean FTA, the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone will add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product and around $10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.