The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on October 25th to discuss the new Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Process – overseen by the U.S. International Trade Commission with input from other federal agencies – to reduce temporarily tariffs on products not made in the United States. The largely non-controversial hearing was a first step toward paving the way for Congressional consideration of a bill by the end of the year to implement recommendations made by the ITC in its final MTB report issued in August. Action on the bill in the Senate Finance Committee is anticipated next.
The new MTB process and prospect for a bill received bipartisan support from members attending the hearing, where they discussed the potential economic benefits to U.S. manufacturers and consumers of providing temporary tariff relief on imported products not produced or available in the United States. Trade Subcommittee Chairman David Reichert (R-WA) stated that passing an MTB was a priority this year, and suggested the bill may be included in a trade package that also renews the Generalized System of Preferences program for developing countries, which expires on December 31.
If successful, this will be the first omnibus duty relief bill to pass Congress in seven years. The National Association for Manufacturers estimates beneficiary companies have faced an estimated annual $748 million in duty related costs since the expiration of the last MTB on December 31, 2012, which has also resulted in an overall $1.8 billion loss to the U.S. economy.