Request for Comment: Review to consider Vietnam as a Beneficiary Developing Country under the GSP

A Federal Register Notice dated June 20, 2008 announced a U.S. Government review to consider designating the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a beneficiary developing country (BDC) for purposes of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and solicited public comments on whether Vietnam meets certain eligibility criteria for such designation. Comments are due by Monday, August 4, 2008, and must be submitted in accordance with the requirements set out in the notice.

AmCham Vietnam member companies may wish to submit their comments to us via email or fax to be included in a written comment that we plan to provide to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Items 5 (protection of intellectual property) and 6 (reduction of trade distorting investment practices and policies; reduction/elimination of barriers to trade in services) are of particular interest to AmCham member companies.

AmCham Vietnam member companies may submit comments direct to USTR as explained in the Federal Register Notice, or to AmCham for inclusion in a general AmCham Vietnam comment paper by email or by fax (to 08 824 3572).

Eligibility Criteria

The trade benefits of the GSP program are available to any country that the President designates as a BDC for purposes of the GSP program. In designating countries as BDCs, the President must consider among other factors, the criteria in section 502 ( c ) of the Act. Section 502 ( c ) provides that, in determining whether to designate any country as a GSP BDC, the President shall take into account:

1. An expression by such country of its desire to be so designated;

2. The level of economic development of such country, including its per capita gross national product, the living standards of its inhabitants, and any other economic factors which the President deems appropriate;

3. Whether or not other major developed countries are extending generalized preferential tariff treatment to such country;

4. The extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets and basic commodity resources of such country and the extent to which such country has assured the United States that it will refrain from engaging in unreasonable export practices;

5. The extent to which such country is providing adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights;

6. The extent to which such country has taken action to—

(a) Reduce trade distorting investment practices and policies (including export performance requirements); and

(b) Reduce or eliminate barriers to trade in services; and

7. Whether or not such country has taken or is taking steps to afford to workers in that country (including any designated zone in that country) internationally recognized worker rights. The term “internationally recognized worker rights” is defined in section 507(4) of the Act, as amended, (19 U.S.C. 2467), to mean:

(a) The right of association;

(b) the right to organize and bargain collectively;

(c) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor;

(d) a minimum age for the employment of children and a prohibition on the worst forms of child labor as defined in section 507(6) of the Act; and

(e) acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

Source: Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 120 / Friday, June 20, 2008 / Notices 35173

Additional Background: Frequently Asked Questions: Understanding Vietnam and GSP, prepared by the Vietnam Trade Office and Sidley Austin LLP, June 2008. Used with permission.