Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mario Diaz-Balart lead push to ease tariffs for developing nations

debbie-wasserman-schultz mario diaz balart
Reauthorizing the Generalized System of Preferences program could ease $3 billion in tariffs paid by Florida businesses.

Leaders in Florida’s congressional delegation want the House to do something about tariffs coming into the state’s ports.

U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mario Díaz-Balart sent a bipartisan letter to leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee calling for the reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. That’s a program intended to provide opportunities for many poor and developing nations to grow economies through trade.

The GSP program first launched in 1974 but any authorization expired three years ago, at the end of 2020. The lapse led to increased tariffs on imports from these nations. That resulted in some $3 billion in tariffs being paid, with Florida businesses accounting for $300 million, with the floral import industry bearing $66 million in tariffs alone.

Wasserman Schultz, co-chair of Florida’s delegation, said reauthorizing the program would ease costs for Americans while reducing China’s economic power.

“Renewing GSP is a win-win proposition for consumers, workers, and local businesses, especially in Florida,” the Weston Democrat said. “In addition to lowering operating costs and prices, preferential trade policies promise to continue lifting millions out of poverty and reducing China’s influence on U.S. supply chains. I’m proud to help lead the bipartisan consensus in support of these objectives.”

Díaz-Balart, dean of Florida’s delegation, said it would also reduce America’s own reliance on goods from China but allowing nations with a positive relationship to the U.S. to provide goods.

“The GSP program, a cornerstone of U.S. trade policy for over 45 years, reduces our nation’s growing reliance on China by encouraging a much-needed shifting of supply chains out of China through nearshoring and reestablishing competitive trade relationships,” the Hialeah Republican said.

“The GSP renewal benefits American families and businesses all over the country, including Florida, by lowering tariffs on global imports and thereby helping U.S. manufacturers and importers stay competitive in international markets. Historically, South Florida has benefited greatly from the international trade industry, bringing jobs to our port cities and well into the heart of our state. By reauthorizing GSP, we would revitalize our communities, bolster our economy, and counter China’s influence in our hemisphere.”

The delegation leaders sent the letter to House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, and Ranking Member Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat.

The majority of Florida’s congressional delegation co-signed the letter, including Republican U.S. Reps. Aaron Bean, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Carlos Giménez, Laurel Lee, Brian Mast, John Rutherford, María Elvira Salazar and Daniel Webster and Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Lois Frankel, Maxwell Frost, Jared Moskowitz, Darren Soto and Frederica Wilson.

Of note, Buchanan serves as Ways and Means Vice Chair, and Steube sits on the committee.

Business groups in Florida supported the reauthorization of the program as well.

“We are grateful to the Florida Congressional Delegation for leading the charge to urge the Ways and Means Committee to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences,” said Rodrigo Leiva, President of the Florida Association of Floral Importers. “The floral industry is a vital economic engine in Florida, and the absence of GSP has resulted in a significant financial strain to our industry, stunting growth, and impeding job creation. The renewal of GSP isn’t just about tariffs; it’s about fortifying global relations and securing the industry’s role in bolstering the U.S economy.”

The letter said bringing the policy back will also avoid a few unintended consequences on the U.S. economy.

“The absence of GSP renewal has halted business expansion, hindered job creation, and prevented crucial investments in operations and infrastructure. The extended period of expiration—nearly three years—has left this financial burden unresolved,” the letter reads. “And while Florida continues to bear the brunt of this disruption, the ripple effects of inaction is bound to harm consumers across our country and hurt employment prospects in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is a key driver for migration.

“Moreover, the expiration of GSP benefits has unintended consequences, particularly regarding China. The imposition of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese products has compelled many U.S. companies to explore alternative suppliers. However, the expiration of GSP benefits now subjects most of these products to higher tariffs for GSP countries. In Florida, an astounding 99% of GSP imports would face Section 301 tariffs if sourced from China, further exacerbating the tariff burden on our industry.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


4 comments

  • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    November 10, 2023 at 7:29 am

    Ohhhh Retch Heaveulations… Oh Good Morn ting America,
    Ugg y’all Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s might want to elect some better looking people.
    Those 2 in the pic above can cause morning sickness
    Do Better Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s !!!!
    EPA

    • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

      November 10, 2023 at 7:53 am

      …. sorry for the delay America, I, Earl Pitts American, had to clean myself up.
      Anyway that pic, above, has been entered as prima facia evidence, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt, that y’all Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s have been stuffing ballot boxes for years upon years.
      Here at “The Esteemed Earl Pitts American Political Reasearch Division”, we have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that it is against human nature to vote for ugly candidates.
      Knowing the above truth, America, just clear your mind, and take a second look at those 2 uggo’s in the above pic.

      Now, America, here comes the “Gorilla Glue Binder” to Earl’s “Sage Words Of Truth”:

      Ask yourself, America, “Did I, Dook 4 Brains (fill in your name)____________________ vote for any of those 2 uggo’s?
      BOOYAH America:
      Proof Positive y’all been stuffing them ballot boxes for years. As you know, America, nobody gets that “Uggo” just between election cycles.
      PROOF POSITIVE BEYOND A SHADOW OF DOUBT:
      Y’all some guilty ballot box staffers
      Thank you America,
      Now that y’all know the truth, I, Earl Pitts American, authorize a glorious “Relaxing Of The Sphincter’s” weekend for one and all,
      EPA

      • Doctor Heinz VonWisenHeimer

        November 10, 2023 at 8:24 am

        Congratulations Dr. Pitts
        You are the first political scientist on the continent to explain politics at a level anyone with any level of education or lack there of can fully comprehend.
        Then to seal the deal with 🦍 gorilla glue binders while geniussly getting your audience to physically sign-off on the evidence.
        Political Science taken to an entirely new level.
        Dr. Heinz

  • It's Complicated

    November 10, 2023 at 11:48 am

    Trade Tariffs levied upon imported goods have little affect upon the manufacturer or importer, because that expense is added to the “cost of goods sold” in the supply chain. Ultimately, the end-user or consumer pays the tariff (you and me). It absolutely benefits domestic manufacturers or growers of the same products by averting under-selling and props up domestic cost of labor. In some cases, it may rise to the level of national security to protect domestic production capabilities (food supplies come to mind).

    In the cited example of floral importers, the U.S. version of that sector of horticulture is a tiny fraction of that industry’s scale in place in South and Central America, with essentially a year-round growing season. The quantity of floral products imported through MIA is mind-boggling (89% of floral imports to the U.S.). If they ceased to import those floral products, they would no longer be available to conveniently pick up at the grocer or florist. This sector of horticulture in the U.S. could NOT step up to fill the demand, which begs the question, “Why do we have ANY Tariffs upon floral products that we do not produce domestically… what purpose does it serve?”

Comments are closed.


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