In May 2016, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act was enacted, which established a new process for “the submission and consideration of petitions for temporary duty suspension and reductions.”
Using this Act, members of the trade can petition for reduced or suspended duty rates for articles that are not produced by domestic suppliers. The latest version of this process is known as the Miscellaneous Trade Bill of 2018.
The original bill, H.R. 4318, contained proposed exclusions for over 1800 items, including multiple chemicals, tools, textiles and footwear. The bill was amended recently and the Senate passed the revised bill unanimously during the last week of July 2018. Additionally, the bill extends the authority of the Department of the Treasury to collect specified customs user fees through April 22, 2026.
With the Senate passing the revised version of the MTB, the House now must pass this version before it goes to the President for signature. Once the bill is signed, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule will be revised to reflect the suspensions and reductions for the specified articles through December 31, 2020. The changes would go into effect 30 days later.
The Tariff Act of 1930 set the stage for all international importations and created tariffs on 20,000 imported goods early in the 20th century. As the 20th century came to a close, the first MTB originated in 1983 when 58 duty suspensions were added to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
A new version of a MTB was established when the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act was introduced in July 1996. It was passed and signed into law by October of that same year.
In 2004, additional changes to the MTB were proposed. These new proposed changes were passed and signed into law in 2006 and 2010, improving the competitive advantage of US manufacturers. The last MTB expired at the end of 2012. As a result, duties of over 600 products were suspended or reduced.
U.S. Manufacturers and Importers often find themselves paying import duties on goods for which there is no domestic availability. In order to enhance competitiveness for those parties, Congress established this protocol to allow ITC review, public comment and Congressional approval of selected petitions, the sum of which would not have significant impact on revenue to the United States.
The bill allows US manufacturers to better compete for business in the international marketplace. Any exclusions that are granted will apply to all imports of that product, regardless if a particular importer submitted a request.
After this process, it is then up to Congress to debate and decide the fate of the requested temporary duty suspensions and reductions.
The current petition and comment period is closed for MTB 2018 and the bill is currently awaiting final approval by Congress. The trade community is encouraged to monitor the International Trade Commission website for their next opportunity to participate in requesting an exclusion in the next Miscellaneous Trade Bill. Please see the Final Report published in August 2017, listing all of the petitions received by the ITC.
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