Legislation has been introduced that would benefit the RV industry by reauthorizing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) recently announced.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have joined with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) in introducing legislation to renew GSP and other preference programs.

The GSP program lowers tariffs on imports from nearly 130 developing countries, but was allowed to expire on July 31, 2013 when congress could not agree on reauthorization legislation. Luan plywood, found in many RVs and only available in southeast Asia, was part of this program and the absence of GSP is costing some RV manufacturers tens of thousands of dollars a month. In total, American companies have paid more than $1 billion in increased import tariffs since the program expired.

For several years, RVIA has been participating with the Coalition for GSP, a Washington, D.C.-based group of U.S. businesses, trade associations and consumer organizations seeking retroactive reinstatement of the GSP program. The introduction of this new reauthorization legislation is a positive first step toward renewing this important program.

The “preferences package” was one of several trade bills introduced last week, including Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also known as “fast track”) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 would renew both the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the GSP program. It would reauthorize GSP through Dec. 31, 2017 and provide refunds on eligible products imported while the program was expired, including luan wood used in RV manufacturing.

Hearings on the series of trade bills began last week in both the House and Senate and the leadership in both houses has indicated that the bills will be brought to the floor soon, led by the TPA legislation. Their ambitious timetable calls for having the trade bills to the president by the Memorial Day recess.