Continuing Efforts to Make Trade Work for Development

April 22, 2009

The drumbeat for reform of U.S. trade preference programs continues to build. I sent a policy memo to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other key officials soon after Kirk was nominated and recommended reforms focused on expanding market access for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  This afternoon, a broad coalition of development-oriented NGOs, think tanks, and business groups came together and sent joint letters to USTR Kirk and congressional leaders on trade from both parties to encourage them to renew the expiring Generalized System of Preferences and Andean preferences programs soon, rather than waiting until the last minute, as has happened in the past. The letters also call for broad reform of all U.S. preference programs to make them more development-friendly. While differences over details of the desired reforms will no doubt emerge as the discussion continues, there is broad agreement on the need to rationalize the current complex of differing programs, provide complete access to the U.S. market for the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries, simplify the rules of origin that can undermine the ability to use preferences, and extend the reformed program for longer than a year or two at a time so as to encourage investment.


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