Originally, this bill was all about the IRS, proposing to make it easier for organizations to register as tax-exempt 501(c)(4) entities with the IRS. Passed through committee, and by voice vote in the House, this bill was taken by the Senate and re-purposed (i.e. totally gutted) as the "legislative vehicle" for something completely unrelated. Through a series of amendments, the Senate changes this bill to be about reducing barriers to trade with Africa, Haiti, and other "less-developed" countries by inserting the text of S. 1267 (a related bill to H.R. 1819) into this bill (H.R. 1295).
Okay, now with it's new identity, this bill would extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for 10 years through 2025. The Act is currently set to expire on September 30, 2015.
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program would be renewed through December 31, 2017 and retroactive relief would be given to eligible products imported while the GSP was defunct when it expired on July 31, 2013. The GSP program allows the U.S. to import products duty-free from 126 designated beneficiary countries and territories that are considered ‘third-country’ or least developed.
The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE and HELP) would also be extended until September 30, 2025. These programs enable Haiti to export a variety of products, including certain apparel products, into the U.S. duty-free. This supports Haiti’s apparel industry, which is a primary source of employment in that country.
AGOA allows fabrics, textiles, and apparel produced in ‘third-country’ nations in sub-Saharan Africa to be imported duty-free — which basically means the U.S. won’t apply a tariff on the product, raising costs for purchasers.
countries that would export to the U.S. through AGOA benefit from
a broader definition of AGOA-eligible products — AGOA countries
could combine inputs to meet satisfy AGOA’s rule of origin.
A President or their Administration under this bill has to give Congress at least 60 days notice before removing a country from the AGOA program, or withdrawing, suspending, or limiting any benefits. The Administration would be granted greater flexibility in withdrawing, suspending, or limiting AGOA benefits if it believes that would be more effective than terminating them altogether.
Oversight and transparency concerns would be addressed by creating additional Congressional notification and reporting requirements. Mechanisms for public input would be established, and at any time any party could petition the U.S. Trade Representative about whether a country is meeting the AGOA eligibility criteria.