The renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) has passed the U.S. Senate with action expected soon in the House of Representatives on the trade bill that would benefit the RV industry.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported in a news release that the House and Senate both introduced legislation in mid-April to renew GSP and other preference programs. The “preferences package” was one of several trade bills introduced at that time, including the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also known as “fast track”) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The Trade Preferences Extension Act (S. 1267) and the AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 (H.R. 1891) would renew both the GSP program and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).  The bills would reauthorize GSP through December 31, 2017, and provide refunds on eligible products imported while the program was expired, including luan wood used in RV manufacturing. The GSP program reduces tariffs on imports from over 130 developing countries, but was allowed to expire on July 31, 2013, when Congress could not agree on reauthorization legislation. RVIA, along with many other associations and companies, has continually urged Congress to renew GSP retroactively.

The ambitious timetable had called for having the trade bills to the president by the Memorial Day recess, but this goal was not met. The key to any of the trade bills moving is the passage of the TPA legislation, as House and Senate leadership are committed to completion of the fast-track authority reauthorization before bringing any of the other trade bills to the floor.

The TPA legislation was brought up in the Senate the week of May 11 and survived a filibuster attempt by a vote of 65-33. The Senate ultimately approved the fast track legislation by a vote of 62-37 on May 22 and sent the bill to the House, where a vote is expected the week of June 8.

The Trade Preferences Extension Act was then approved by the full Senate by a vote of 97-1 and sent to the House. Meanwhile, in the House, the GSP extension was approved by the Ways and Means Committee and sent to the House floor. If passed, the House will then vote to approve the retroactive GSP renewal and send the legislation to the president.