President Obama Signs Nepal Trade Preferences Bill

Washington – Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing special trade preferences for Nepal, which will grant duty-free tariff benefits for up to 66 types of items, including certain carpets, headgear, shawls, scarves, and travel goods.

The Nepal program is authorized for ten years and is designed to help Nepal’s economic recovery from the earthquakes that struck the country last year.  The program will grant duty-free tariff benefits for Nepali exports not currently eligible for benefits under the General System of Preferences (GSP).  The Nepal Trade Preferences Legislation also authorizes a trade capacity building program, focused on helping Nepal implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Nepali business to expand their imports to U.S. markets,”  said U.S. Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz.  “We look forward to learning more about Nepal’s plans for implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Program and how the United States Government can contribute to this goal.”

For the new trade preference program to go into effect, certain administrative steps need to be completed in the United States.  First, the President must certify that Nepal meets the eligibility requirements of the program,  which are the same as those for African Growth and Opportunity Act countries.

The U.S. International Trade Commission will also need to review the products covered by the preference program to ensure that an increase in imports of these products into the U.S. market will not negatively affect the U.S. economy.  These statutorily-required reviews will take several months to complete.