U.S.: House of Representatives Renews ATPDEA

By Dialogo
December 17, 2010

On 15 December, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the renewal for eighteen months of the Andean tariff preferences that benefit Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, but the Senate still needs to ratify them, with two weeks left before their expiration.

The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) is included in the Omnibus Trade Act of 2010, approved by the House on a voice vote, its sponsor Rep. Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat, announced.

The Omnibus Trade Act “is vital for expanding American jobs and helping hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their employment,” Levin said in a statement.

“I urge my Senate colleagues to act without delay to pass this important legislation,” the congressman indicated.

The House extended ATPDEA, which expires on 31 December, until 30 June 2012.

The law, in force since 1991 in its original form (Andean Trade Preferences Act), provides tariff exemptions to products from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (Bolivia is suspended) in recognition of their fight against drugs.

In the Senate, ATPDEA is being blocked by the refusal of Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, to permit the renewal of a more generalized system of preferences, which in his judgment is causing losses to a firm in his state due to the import of sleeping bags from Bangladesh.

Colombia’s ambassador in Washington, Gabriel Silva, was delighted by the House action but expressed his wish that the obstacles in the Senate be overcome.
“The overwhelming vote in favor of the extension (…) demonstrates clear bipartisan support for this program and for Colombia. We hope that the difficulties in the Senate will be overcome,” Silva indicated in a statement.

The approval of ATPDEA in the House also caused rejoicing in the U.S. textile industry, which views the Andean region as “key” for its exports.

The vote “is one step forward in restoring certainty to the many industries, including the U.S. apparel and footwear industry, that count on trade preference programs and tariff suspensions to support jobs in the United States,” said the president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), Kevin Burke.

“The Senate should vote to approve this legislation as soon as possible to ensure American competitiveness and support U.S. jobs,” Burke added.