The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has welcomed a new  measure which would make US imports of travel goods eligible for duty benefits.

Introduced in the US Senate, the GSP Update Act – full name Generalised System of Preferences Update for Production, Diversification and Trade Enhancement Act – would make US imports of luggage, backpacks and handbags eligible for duty benefits under the GSP programme.

Developing countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines are able to export travel products to the US duty-free under GSP, while the GSP Update would make China and Vietnam ineligible for the same benefits.

“Extending duty free benefits to travel goods makes essential products more affordable and creates development opportunities in the countries that need them most,” said AAFA vice chairman Rick Helfenbein, president of Tellas.

“Under the GSP Update Act, countries like the Philippines and Cambodia will have increased opportunity to compete in the global market while providing US consumers with more product choices.”

The AAFA said the act recognised that travel goods were no longer “import sensitive”, since 99% of them were already imported into the US, thus making the duties “an unavoidable, hidden and regressive tax on American consumers”.