Last night, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the New Partnership for Trade Development Act (H.R.4101), an important piece of legislation geared toward harmonizing trade and US development efforts. The act has three goals:
- To strengthen the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by extending its benefits and focusing on trade capacity building;
- To put more fairness in US preference programs by creating a new model that extends duty-free, quota-free preferences, as well as encouraging trade and capacity building among Least Developed Countries (LDC); and,
- To simplify and extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) by instituting a new single rule of origin and reviewing the current GSP statutory exclusions that were first established in 1974.
To accomplish these goals, the act calls for the creation of the following:
- An Office of Trade and Competitiveness for Least Developed Countries (LDC) and African Countries in the White House that is responsible for planning, developing and coordinating trade capacity building and private sector competitiveness programs; and,
- A Trade Capacity Coordinating Committee to organize federal TCB programs, focusing on infrastructure, labor and environmental standards, trade facilitation, economic opportunity and relationships with NGOs, donors and contractors. The Committee is to be made up of the Director of the Office of Trade and Competition; the US Trade Representative; and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury, State and Defense.