In a significant political victory for the RV industry as well as hundreds of industries across America, both the House and Senate passed legislation late Wednesday (Oct. 12) night to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through July 21, 2013, according to a press release from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
The legislation also requires that additional duties paid since the expiration of GSP on December 31, 2010 be refunded without interest. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation very soon.
RVIA said that for more than three decades, GSP has provided duty-free treatment to selected goods imported from more than 130 developing countries. Approximately three-quarters of U.S. imports using GSP are raw materials, parts and components, or machinery and equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States for domestic consumption or for export. In this fashion, GSP boosts the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and lowers the cost of consumer goods for American families.
This is certainly true as it applies to the RV industry, which is heavily reliant on luan, a type of strong flexible wood that is only available from southeast Asia. There is no other product that is strong enough yet flexible and light enough to be used in certain RV applications.
Due to this reliance, GSP expiration had been costing American RV manufacturers millions of dollars a month. With the retroactive renewal of the GSP, RV manufacturers are now free to use that money to create jobs and lower prices. With the retroactive nature of the renewal, it is expected that RV manufacturers could be made whole for the amounts they had been paying since the expiration of the program last December.
RVIA had been lobbying for the renewal of GSP prior to its expiration. RVIA staff took the case for renewal directly to members of Congress, coordinated a grassroots effort to support GSP renewal through RVAct.com, and coordinated visits between RV manufacturers and suppliers and their members of Congress during RVIA’s annual Advocacy Day to personally drive home just how harmful the expiration of GSP had been to the RV industry.
“This has been a real bottom line issue for RV manufacturers and suppliers,” said RVIA Director of Government Affairs Matt Wald. “The additional duty imposed with the expiration of GSP was a dollar to dollar increase to the cost of building RVs. We worked hard with our wood supply partners to have the GSP extended in the face of total gridlock in Washington and we are happy to see common sense prevail.”