Just days after stalling efforts to debate a number of US trade bills, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to pass a package that will renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and trade preferences for Haiti.

It has also agreed to begin talks on bills including Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – which will potentially pave the way for a fast track vote on the long-awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated between the US and 11 countries including Vietnam.

The voting follows a compromise between Republican and Democratic leaders to separate the package of bills into smaller parcels including The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, and a motion to begin debate on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 includes plans to extend AGOA for ten years, simplify rules of origin, add notification and reporting requirements, and improve transparency and participation in the AGOA review process.

It also sees the Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP), which provide trade benefits for apparel and other products imported from Haiti, extended through 30 September 2025.

And it renews the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme and removing a statutory restriction that prevents travel goods, such as backpacks, phone cases, and handbags from being considered for GSP eligibility.

But the reinstatement of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program are being discussed separately – which some observers say is likely to take many weeks and will face tough debate.

"We urge the House to move quickly to pass the trade preferences bill and for the Senate to conclude debate and pass TPA as soon as possible," said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation (NRF), added: "TPA’s combination of increased congressional authority and oversight and a new procedural framework for consideration of trade agreements makes it far more likely that measures such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will become law."

For more insight into what the measures mean, click on the following link: US fashion industry applauds trade bills package.