Ernst, Portman bill supports RV industry through access to duty-free trade program

U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure the nation’s growing recreational vehicle industry has access to a duty-free trade program.

The proposal would modernize a waiver process that allows the U.S. Trade Representative to provide the duty-free treatment to certain foreign products RV manufacturers seek as long as current domestic production of the item is considered.

“At present, manufacturers could see an increase in tariffs on certain imports that are important not only to Iowa, but our country,” Ernst said. “This bipartisan bill offers a straightforward approach to modernize outdated trade policy, offering relief from tariffs for our manufacturers.”

Under current law, antiquated trade data from 1995 is reviewed to make such a determination, Ernst said. Ernst and Portman’s legislation would update that requirement to more accurately reflect current production.

Portman said the bill makes a common sense change to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) duty-free trade program.

“Decisions about GSP-eligibility should be based on actual market considerations, rather than conditions that existed in 1995. That’s ancient history. By merely changing the date in the statute, this simple bill makes a key update to help American businesses – such as iconic motorhome manufacturer and Ohio company, Airstream – better source products not found in the United States.”

Under the bill, current production data would be from within the last three calendar years. The deadline for annual tariff waiver decisions would change from July 1 to October 15 to allow for the review of full-year trade data in making a determination.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced the measure with Ernst and Portman.