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NFTC Calls for Reform of U.S. Trade Preferences for Developing Countries
Date: 4/22/2009
Written By: Jennifer Cummings or Eric Thomas, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, 202-822-9491

Washington DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today joined other leading business and non-governmental organizations in urging Congress and the Administration to reform and renew U.S. trade preference programs for developing countries. In a letter sent to the U.S. Trade Representative and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, the organizations outlined suggestions for preference reform.

"Trade preference programs play a significant role in promoting economic growth and development both at home and abroad. These programs provide tangible economic opportunities for the citizens of developing countries, and it is in our national interest to pursue policies that help reduce poverty among the world's poorest populations," said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. "Preference reform coupled with the successful conclusion of the Doha Round will help stimulate the global economy and deliver significant benefits to developed and developing countries."

"To help counter the negative impact of the global economic downturn on developing countries, it is imperative for Congress and the Administration to seek timely renewal of expiring trade preference programs," said NFTC Vice President for Regional Trade Initiatives Chuck Dittrich. "The United States should not stop there, however. We urge policymakers to go a step further to reform trade preference programs to ensure their effectiveness in delivering benefits and addressing unmet needs. Doing so will not only benefit less developed countries, but will also help U.S. companies and workers to remain competitive by decreasing the cost of needed manufacturing and other inputs."

In addition to the NFTC, the letter was signed by 28 other organizations, including Bread for the World, Business Roundtable, the Corporate Council on Africa, the National Retail Federation, Oxfam America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The letter included a Joint Proposal for U.S. Preference Program Reform, which called for the establishment of legislation with the following elements:
  • One simple, unified U.S. trade preference program that:
    • Extends benefits to all developing countries, including advanced developing countries, that meet clear eligibility criteria;
    • Contains consistent, transparent, predictable and enforceable rules for termination of country and product eligibility that also, when possible, are sensitive to opportunities to expand United States-beneficiary, or beneficiary-beneficiary trade;
    • Includes a mechanism for public comment and a clear review process for continued participation with regular reporting to Congress on performance and trends in meeting eligibility criteria;
    • Uses a simple rule of origin common to all products; and
    • Remains in effect for a period long enough to encourage long-term investment and sourcing.
  • Enhanced benefits for least developed countries, sub-Saharan Africa and designated low middle-income countries, including:
    • Extension of duty-free, quota-free market access for all products;
    • A less restrictive rule of origin for eligible sub-Saharan African countries;
    • Targeted trade capacity building assistance for countries in need, with a particular focus on building local and regional capacity in sub-Saharan African countries; and
    • A requirement that all U.S. government foreign assistance policies and tools be aligned to support the development of strong economies that can participate in local, regional and international trade. U.S. aid providers would work with private sector and civil society representatives to identify opportunities to most effectively promote economic development in impoverished countries.
To read the full letter, click here.

About the NFTC

Advancing Global Commerce for 95 Years - The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.