U.S. trade preference programs promote economic development in poorer nations by providing duty-free export opportunities in the United States. The Generalized System of Preferences, Caribbean Basin Initiative, Andean Trade Preference Act, and African Growth and Opportunity Act unilaterally reduce U.S. tariffs for many products from over 130 countries. However, two of these programs expire partially or in full this year, and Congress is exploring options as it considers renewal. This testimony describes the growth in preference program imports, identifies policy trade-offs, and summarizes the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations and options suggested by a panel of experts on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The testimony is based on studies issued in September 2007, March 2008, and August 2009. For those studies, GAO analyzed trade data, reviewed trade literature and program documents, interviewed U.S. officials, did fieldwork in nine countries, and convened a panel of experts.
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