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Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Introduction Could Mean Major Duty Reductions for US Companies

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The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2017 has been formally introduced in the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees, and it includes provisions that would temporarily reduce or suspend duties on certain American imports.

Apparel groups like the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) have urged quick Congressional passage of the bill.

“Bipartisan MTB reform is smart policy for American businesses, American workers and American consumers, as it will lead to the elimination or reduction of duties on imports that are not available or manufactured in the United States.” AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein, said. “This will directly result in long-needed duty relief for American companies, providing capital for reinvestment in the American workforce, research and development, and reduction on prices for American families. We are happy to see Congress has moved forward with a transparent process to review specific product lines, and encourage the quick approval of the bill.”

AAFA had written to the committees last month noting that the U.S. apparel industry generated more than 50 percent of duties collected by the U.S. last year, despite accounting for just 6 percent of total imports by value.

The letter noted that current MTB includes nearly 1,800 individual product petitions, as recommended by the U.S. International Trade Commission and will provide $350 million of duties savings in 2018, and more than $1 billion in savings for U.S. companies over the next three years.

“Dozens of these provisions include textile, footwear, travel goods and apparel products that would benefit our industry and its 4 million American workers,” wrote Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the AAFA. “As found by the ITC during the MTB process, the provisions do not harm any U.S. domestic manufacturers, and instead would provide real and immediate benefits for the industry, including those engaged in manufacturing in the United States.”

[Read more about trade policy: Trump’s Trade Policies Come Under Fire as Hurting US Standing]

When the bill was introduced in the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee last month, chairman Dave Reichert (R-Washington), said, “The MTB is designed to boost the competitiveness of American manufacturers by lowering the cost of imported inputs and in some cases, finished goods, without harming domestic firms that produce competing products. Many companies in my home state of Washington have relied on the MTB, and I know that many of my colleagues have similar stories from their districts.”

He added, “Our manufacturers have used the savings from past MTBs to strengthen their competitive edge, support the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs, increase U.S. production and contribute to the economic growth of the United States. But the last MTB expired in 2012 and left American manufacturers without a process to help them cut costs. This undermined the ability of our manufacturers to provide more domestic jobs and damaged their global competitiveness.”

With the introduction of the new legislation, Reichert said, “Now, Congress must act to consider an MTB bill and deliver long-awaited tariff relief to our manufacturers.”

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