This piece was originally published in the June 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry.
By Craig Updyke, Director, Trade and Commercial Affairs, NEMA
On May 20, President Obama signed into law reforms to the long-stalled process for granting temporary suspensions of customs import duties for products and inputs that are not available from domestic sources. The provisions of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 sidestep concerns that many members of Congress have had that the previous process amounted to “earmarking” benefits for a small number of firms.
“This bill is about strengthening manufacturing jobs,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said at a May 18 event hailing final passage of the bill. “It’s about making sure our U.S. manufacturers don’t pay extra costs or extra taxes. It’s about lowering the costs for American consumers.”
In the Senate, the idea to reform the tariff suspension process was championed by Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The new law removes individual members of the House and Senate from the development process and inserts the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) into the beginning of the process. It specifically directs the ITC to begin a process no later than October 15 of this year to open a 60-day period for public submittal of tariff suspension requests. The submittals will be available for public review and comment on the ITC’s website.
Based on feedback received and the ITC’s analysis, the commission will report results to Congress. The Department of Commerce (DOC) will also report to Congress as to whether any of the imports at issue are available from domestic manufacturers. NEMA expects to assist the ITC and DOC by providing information during the vetting process.
Products that are only available for import and do not violate limits on tariff revenue to be foregone by the federal government would be wrapped up into a miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) in early 2017. The new law includes additional transparency and process provisions that would carry over to an identical solicitation and review process to begin in October 2019.
NEMA looks forward to assisting interested member companies during the new MTB process.