Wasserman Schultz, Díaz-Balart Lead Florida Delegation in Push for GSP Renewal to Boost Local Economy, Lower Consumer Prices
Washington, D.C. –Today, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25) and Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-26) led the majority of Florida’s congressional delegation in authoring a letter to Members of the House Ways and Means Committee requesting that Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (MA-01) to boost the economy and cut consumer costs by advancing legislation to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which has been expired for nearly three years.
They were joined by bipartisan Florida Members including Reps. Aaron Bean, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchana, Kathy Castor, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Neal Dunn, Lois Frankel, Scott Franklin, Maxwell Frost, Carlos Gimenez, Laurel Lee, Brian Mast, Jared Moskowitz, John Rutherford, Maria Salazar, Darren Soto, Daniel Webster, and Frederica Wilson.
“Renewing GSP is a win-win proposition for consumers, workers, and local businesses, especially in Florida,” said Wasserman Schultz. “In addition to lowering operating costs and prices, preferential trade policies promise to continue lifting millions out of poverty and reducing China’s influence on U.S. supply chains. I’m proud to help lead the bipartisan consensus in support of these objectives.”
“I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan effort supporting the retroactive renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The GSP program, a cornerstone of U.S. trade policy for over 45 years, reduces our nation’s growing reliance on China by encouraging a much-needed shifting of supply chains out of China through nearshoring and reestablishing competitive trade relationships. The GSP renewal benefits American families and businesses all over the country, including Florida, by lowering tariffs on global imports and thereby helping U.S. manufacturers and importers stay competitive in international markets. Historically, South Florida has benefited greatly from the international trade industry, bringing jobs to our port cities and well into the heart of our state. By reauthorizing GSP, we would revitalize our communities, bolster our economy, and counter China’s influence in our hemisphere” said Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart.
“We are grateful to the Florida Congressional Delegation for leading the charge to urge the Ways and Means Committee to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences,” said Rodrigo Leiva, President of the Florida Association of Floral Importers. “The floral industry is a vital economic engine in Florida, and the absence of GSP has resulted in a significant financial strain to our industry, stunting growth, and impeding job creation. The renewal of GSP isn't just about tariffs; it's about fortifying global relations and securing the industry's role in bolstering the U.S economy.”
The extended lapse in authorization for GSP has led to higher tariffs on imports from developing countries, increasing procurement costs for businesses in Florida’s trade-intensive economy. Over $3 billion in extra tariffs have been paid in total, with Florida businesses accounting for roughly $300 million. While businesses have done everything possible to prevent price hikes, many have warned that the tariff hikes are unsustainable. The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Neal, and Members of the Ways and Means Committee:
On behalf of our constituents and Florida businesses, we urge the Ways and Means Committee to take up and advance legislation to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). We appreciate Trade Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith’s leadership on this issue, as demonstrated by the recent hearing on the topic, which has generated significant interest in resuming this essential program.
The GSP program, a cornerstone of U.S. trade policy for over 45 years, has played a pivotal role in fostering economic growth and development in low- and middle-income countries while benefiting American consumers, businesses, and workers. Strategically waiving U.S. tariffs on approximately 3,400 products from 120 countries incentivized increased trade, promoted global development, and strengthened the U.S. economy. This program is a testament to the power of trade to enhance foreign relations and bolster our nation's economic prosperity.
Regrettably, the GSP authorization lapsed on December 31, 2020, resulting in significant financial strain on American companies nationwide. This expiration has imposed over $3 billion in extra tariffs, with Florida-based businesses bearing the weight of approximately $300 million of this burden. The impact on the floral industry, a vital component of Florida's economy and job market, has been particularly severe. Importing flowers supports over 6,000 jobs in South Florida and more than 200,000 jobs throughout the United States, spanning various sectors and industries. Furthermore, nearly 90% of flowers consumed in the United States pass through Miami International Airport, Port Miami, and Port Everglades in South Florida.
To date, the Florida floral industry has paid over $66 million in tariffs, crippling U.S. companies that have borne these costs. The absence of GSP renewal has halted business expansion, hindered job creation, and prevented crucial investments in operations and infrastructure. The extended period of expiration—nearly three years—has left this financial burden unresolved.
And while Florida continues to bear the brunt of this disruption, the ripple effects of inaction is bound to harm consumers across our country and hurt employment prospects in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is a key driver for migration.
Moreover, the expiration of GSP benefits has unintended consequences, particularly regarding China. The imposition of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese products has compelled many U.S. companies to explore alternative suppliers. However, the expiration of GSP benefits now subjects most of these products to higher tariffs for GSP countries. In Florida, an astounding 99% of GSP imports would face Section 301 tariffs if sourced from China, further exacerbating the tariff burden on our industry.
The reauthorization of the GSP program will have a significant positive impact on various other sectors of the U.S. economy, including:
· Travel Goods, Handbags, Etc. ($133 million): Lowering tariffs through GSP benefits will help businesses in this sector remain competitive in the global market.
· Plywood, Veneered Panels, Etc. ($20 million): Reauthorizing GSP will reduce costs and promote economic growth in the import and distribution of these products.
· Aluminum Bars, Rods & Profiles ($6.3 million): GSP renewal will encourage investment, expansion, and job creation in this industry.
· Precious Metal Jewelry & Parts ($4.0 million): Lowering tariffs through GSP benefits will support manufacturers and retailers in the precious metal jewelry sector.
Given these compelling reasons, we respectfully urge the House Ways and Means Committee to pass long-term, retroactive GSP legislation as expeditiously as possible. The uncertainty surrounding the GSP program's renewal inhibits strategic planning for companies hesitant to reconfigure their supply chains, especially in light of the program's history of extended expiration. A full retroactive reauthorization would refund the $300 million (and growing) in tariffs paid on imports into Florida.
Furthermore, we support modernization of outdated GSP rules, such as "competitive need limitations" (CNLs), which can re-impose tariffs if imports from a GSP country rise, discouraging diversification of sourcing away from China. These rules also reduce countries' incentives to meet eligibility criteria and impose real costs. While GSP has been expired, imports into Florida faced up to $88 million in non-refundable tariffs due to current CNL rules.
We hope that you share our belief that the GSP program's reauthorization is paramount to various industries in Florida and the broader U.S. economy. It will provide critical relief to businesses, support job creation, and foster economic growth. We look forward to working with you to lower costs and strengthen American businesses while reducing global poverty and deepening our relationships with key trading partners.
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