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US Lawmakers Introduce Miscellaneous Tariff Bill

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

28 December 2009

The US House of Representatives is to consider the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill of 2009 (MTB), which temporarily suspends or reduces for three years duties on over 600 products.

The introduction of the bill was jointly announced by Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander M. Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX).

Commenting on the bill, Levin explained that: “The vast majority of products obtaining duty relief under the bill are inputs or components for goods that are being manufactured here in the United States, thereby enhancing US manufacturers’ competitiveness in the global marketplace."

Levin added that the bill's introduction on December 17 would give additional time for the public to study its provisions before House consideration.

Brady noted that: “This bipartisan and thoroughly vetted bill creates opportunities for US manufacturers and their employees to reduce their costs without any adverse effect on any other US interest."

The MTB of 2009 suspends or reduces duties on over 600 products for three years, most of which are inputs or components for products manufactured in the US. Many of the provisions in the bill renew existing duty suspensions or reductions, which expire on December 31, 2009.

To be included in the MTB, a tariff modification proposal (e.g. for duty suspension or reduction) must:

  • Raise no objections (e.g. there must be no domestic production or objection by domestic producers);
  • Receive a score from the Congressional Budget Office under USD500,000 per year; and
  • Be administrable by US Customs and Border Protection.

Levin and Brady went on to reveal that each tariff modification proposal has been subject to an extensive vetting process. Specifically, each individual proposal is subject to:

  • A request for public comment by the Committee;
  • a review by the Administration (Commerce, US Customs and Border Patrol and other agencies); and
  • A review by the independent US International Trade Commission.

As part of this process, the Ways and Means Committee also adopted new procedures in the 110th Congress, in accordance with amended House rules, to enhance transparency.

Specifically, Members of Congress seeking the inclusion of a proposal in the MTB must identify “anticipated beneficiaries” of the proposal, if there are 10 or fewer beneficiaries, and certify that the Member and his/her spouse, if applicable, have no financial interest in the benefit.

The bill’s total cost is USD300m over the 2010-2014 period. There would be no effects beyond the first five years, according to the statement released by Levin and Brady. This cost will be paid for by extending Customs User fees.

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