Wednesday, July 6, 2016

US announces expansion of trade facilities for Nepal

Nepal received duty-free market access in the US for its travel goods like luggage, backpacks, handbags and wallets under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The United States Trade Representative's (USTR) Office has announced the Annual Product Review under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Programme.
The measure adds new duty-free status for travel goods – like luggage, backpacks, handbags, and wallets – for Least Developed Beneficiary Developing Countries (LDBDCs), including Nepal.
According to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu today, the new rule makes these products eligible for duty-free status beginning July 1. "US imports of travel and luggage goods products totaled almost $10 billion in 2015," it added.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Nepali businesses to expand their exports to US markets,” US Ambassador Alaina B Teplitz is quoted in the statement. "A strong commitment to open-market policies, a stable and transparent legal environment that secures property rights, policies that foster dynamic entrepreneurial activity and strategic infrastructure investments will help Nepal make the most of this opportunity," she added.
In 2015, Nepal ranked second, after Cambodia, of all LDC exporters of luggage products to the US. Nepal's exports of these products have grown seven per cent since 2014, totaling $1.8 million in 2015.
US trade preference programmes provide opportunities for many of the world's poorest countries to use trade to grow their economies and climb out of poverty.  The 40-year old GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme.
Under GSP, the US provides duty-free treatment for many imports from beneficiary developing countries, and additional products for LDBDCs. About 5,000 products from 122 beneficiary developing countries and territories, including 43 least-developed countries, are eligible for duty-free treatment when exported to the US under the GSP programme.
Nearly 1,500 of these products are reserved for duty-free treatment for LDBDCs only.
According to economic counsellor at the Nepali embassy in the US Kailash Raj Pokhrel, Nepal has received the duty-free facility for 27 items. These items are in addition to the 66 garment products that have received a similar facility under a separate Nepal-specific legislation.
Although the GSP facility covered 5,000 items from 127 countries, the list included only 5 per cent of Nepali products, including flags, caps, cigars and scarves of the total items exported to the US. Now, the new items have been added to the list of goods for which Nepal will get duty-free market access in the US.
Earlier, in February, US President Barak Obama signed legislation authorising special trade preference to Nepal providing duty-free market access to 66 types of garment items including certain carpets, headgears, shawls, scarves and travel goods. This is a new Nepal-specific tariff preference programme while the GSP is a 40-year-old trade preference programme, the oldest such programme.

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