The US International Trade Commission (USITC) is to assess the likely economic impact of allowing products, including apparel and textiles, from the world's poorest countries to enter the United States duty and quota free.

The investigation was requested by the US Trade Representative (USTR) last month, with the final report submit released in February 2012. Its results will not be made public.

The report on the 'Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free, Quota-Free Treatment for Imports from Least-Developed Countries,' will specifically address changes since the USITC's last report 2007.

Significantly, it will also evaluate articles in chapters 50 through 63 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) - which covers yarns, fabrics and apparel.

The aim here is to identify products not currently imported from LDCs for which imports could potentially increase if duty-free, quota-free access to the US was granted.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed in December 2005 to provide duty-free, quota-free market access to products from least-developed countries (LDCs), as defined by the United Nations. Least developed apparel exporting nations include  Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos.

The new study will look at the economic effect of providing duty-free, quota-free treatment for imports from LDCs on industries in the US  producing like or directly competitive products. It will also look at the impact on imports under US preference programmes, and imports from US free trade agreement partners.

Each article in chapters 1 through 97 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) for which US tariffs or tariff-rate quotas remain will be investigated.

The process will take into account preferential treatment currently being provided to LDCs under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Caribbean Basin Initiative programmes, as well as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) if Congress renews that program.