The US is looking at the eligibility of Nepal to receive duty-free trade preferences on imported articles such as certain travel goods, hats, and carpets.

The review – for which public comments are sought – would apply to a limited number of products described in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which was signed into law earlier this year. The provisions are intended to help Nepal following last year's earthquake.

Under this law, preferential treatment depends on the imported articles meeting certain criteria under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

AGOA criteria require that the country has established or is making continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy; the rule of law and the right to due process; the elimination of barriers to US trade and investment; economic policies to reduce poverty; a system to combat corruption and bribery; and the protection of internationally recognised worker rights.

In addition, the country may not engage in activities that undermine US national security or foreign policy interests or engage in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights or provide support for acts of international terrorism.

The GSP criteria include the level of economic development; whether or not other major developed countries are providing preferential treatment; the extent to which the country has assured the US that it will provide market access and refrain from unreasonable export practices; the extent to which it is providing adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights; the extent to which it has taken action to reduce trade-distorting investment practices and policies and reduce or eliminate barriers to trade in services; and whether or not Nepal has taken or is taking steps to afford workers internationally recognised worker rights.

Separately, before providing preferential treatment to any article from Nepal, the President must also determine, after receiving the advice of the United States International Trade Commission, that these articles are not import sensitive in the context of imports from Nepal.

Click here for details on how to submit comments, which must be received by 27 April.