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Notice

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP); Worker Rights; Deadline for Submitting Public Comment on Withdrawal of Duty-Free Treatment of Certain Products Imported From Swaziland

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

ACTION:

Notice of request for public comment.

SUMMARY:

This notice informs the public that because Swaziland has not taken sufficient steps to provide internationally recognized worker rights, the U.S. Government is preparing to withdraw duty-free treatment accorded to imports from Swaziland under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and sets forth the deadline for submitting public comments. All GSP eligible products imported from Swaziland would be affected.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

GSP Subcommittee, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW, Room 518, Washington, DC 20508 (Tel. 202/395-6971). Public versions of all documents relating to this review may be seen by appointment in the USTR public Reading Room between 9:30-12 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. (Tel. 202/395-6186).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The GSP program is authorized pursuant to Title V of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (“the Trade Act”) (19 U.S.C. 2461 et seq.). The GSP program grants duty-free treatment to designated eligible articles that are imported from designated beneficiary developing countries. Once granted, GSP benefits may be withdrawn, suspended or limited by the President with respect to any article or with respect to any country. In making this determination, the President must consider several factors, one of which is 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 (19 U.S.C. 2462(c)(7)). Swaziland is a beneficiary of the GSP program. In 1999, nearly all imports from Swaziland benefitted from GSP.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations filed a petition from USTR in February 1997 contending that Swaziland was not providing internationally recognized worker rights, particularly the rights to associated and bargain collectively. The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) agreed.

Subsequently, with encouragement from the United States and technical assistance from the International Labor Organization (ILO), Swaziland developed new industrial relations legislation consistent with internationally recognized worker rights. After the Swaziland legislature adopted the new law, however, the legislation was modified in a manner that makes it inconsistent with ILO conventions on the rights to associate and bargain collectively. Swaziland has not put the modified legislation into effect.

Swaziland's enactment of ILO inconsistent legislation has led the TPSC to conclude that Swaziland has made no appreciable progress toward affording internationally recognized worker rights. As a result, the TPSC is seeking public comment on the impact of suspending duty-free treatment for articles imported from Swaziland.

Opportunities for Public Comment and Inspection of Comments

The GSP Subcommittee of the TPSC invites comments in support of, or in opposition to, withdrawal of duty-free treatment on imports from Swaziland under the GSP program. The deadline for submissions is 5 PM on Friday, September 29, 2000.

Comments must be submitted in 15 copies, in English, to the Chairman of the GSP Subcommittee, Trade Policy Staff Committee, 600 17th Street, NW., Room 513, Washington, DC 20508. Information and comments will be subject to public inspection by appointment with the staff of the USTR Public Reading Room, except for information granted “business confidential” status pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.6 and 2007.7. If the document contains business confidential information, 15 copies of a nonconfidential version of the submission along with 15 copies of the confidential version must be submitted. The business confidential version of the submission should be clearly marked “Submitted in Confidence” at the top and bottom of each and every page of the document. A nonconfidential summary of the business confidential information must be included with the business confidential submission, along Start Printed Page 54100with a written explanation of why the business confidential material should be protected. The version which does not contain business confidential information (the public version) should also be clearly marked at the top and bottom of each and every page (either “public version” or “non-confidential”). Submissions should comply with 15 CFR Part 2007, including sections 2007.0, and 2007.1.

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Don Rosenbaum,

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Trade and Development.

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[FR Doc. 00-22831 Filed 9-5-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M