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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Trade Preference Programs

Preference programs are trade benefits that the U.S. government provides to developing countries to promote a more prosperous and sustainable global economy. By offering duty-free treatment for imports of certain products into the United States from developing countries, these programs support the creation of new economic opportunities in the developing world. They also reduce the cost of goods, such as manufacturing inputs, in the U.S. market.

Specifically authorized by Congress to help spur international development, each of the US trade preference programs includes eligibility criteria reflecting a broad commitment to market economics and fair trade. DOL/ILAB serves on the interagency body that administers these trade programs and monitors beneficiary countries' compliance with the eligibility criteria established by Congress.

There are four main preference programs:

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)
  • The GSP program has provided preferential duty-free entry of more than 4,650 products from approximately 142 countries and territories since 1976.¬†Products and countries must meet certain criteria to be eligible for duty-free entry under the GSP. Countries may be removed from GSP eligibility if it is found that they fail to meet the established criteria, including those on workers' rights. Learn More

  • African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
  • AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. trade and investment policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Through AGOA, the US promotes free markets, expands U.S.-African trade and investment, stimulates economic growth, and facilitates sub-Saharan Africa's integration into the global economy. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, combined with the preferences under GSP, allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free. Learn More

  • Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA):
  • The CBTPA provides 17 beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. In particular, CBTPA provides for duty- and quota-free access for apparel products manufactured in designated beneficiary countries in the Caribbean Basin region. Learn More

  • Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership for Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II):
  • HOPE II offers special trade preferences to Haiti in exchange for compliance with specified country-level and producer-specific labor eligibility requirements. The two kinds of eligibility requirements provide the U.S. Government with mechanisms to promote compliance with core labor standards and directly related Haitian law and to ensure the benefits of the HOPE II trade preferences are shared by workers and employers. Learn More