Congress Passes Major Trade Legislation

Boston, MA-June 26, 2015
This week Congress finally passed several bills impacting the trade community after much debate and political maneuvering over the past few months. As these items await the President’s signature, we highlight some of the changes. Please speak with an OCEANAIR representative to learn more about the new legislation.
On June 23, 2015, the Senate passed legislation to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) after House approval last week. The TPA provides congressional objectives for trade agreement negotiations and includes provisions to expedite congressional consideration of legislation implementing those agreements. For the next six years, TPA will cover the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and any other trade agreement negotiated.
Between June 24 and 25, the Senate and House passed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. This legislation retroactively reinstates and extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program through December 31, 2017; renews the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); and enhances trade benefits for Haiti with the HOPE and HELP acts. As a result of the bill’s passage, importers can now obtain refunds of duties paid since July 31, 2013 on goods otherwise eligible for GSP treatment. The bill also includes duty preferences granted to products imported under the AGOA, as well as, the HOPE and HELP acts with an extension through Sept. 30, 2025.
The legislation also grants the Department of Commerce more discretion in arriving at antidumping and countervailing margins against imported goods. Additional changes to antidumping and countervailing duty laws simplify the process for a petitioning domestic industry to prove injury. Some more changes are still on the horizon over the next several weeks as members of both chambers of Congress plan to conference to merge different versions of the trade enforcement and facilitation bill. These items will still require approval by each chamber before being sent to the President.