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MISCELLANEOUS TARIFF BILLS

Overview

A Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) is a law that temporarily reduces or suspends the import tariffs paid on particular products imported into the United States. They are typically requested by the companies importing those products.

The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, signed into law by President Obama on May 20, 2016, created an entirely new process for determining which products will be included in a MTB.

Previously, Congress had played the predominant role in the MTB process. Under the new process, the task of collecting petitions requesting reduced or suspended tariffs on particular products; receiving public comments on those petitions; and making a final determination on whether to include a requested product in a MTB falls to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). The USITC obtains input from other Federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, in making its determination for each petition.

The USITC has a designated page for the MTB process (https://mtbps.usitc.gov/external/) that includes both detailed and overview information on the MTB process and instructions on how to submit petitions and public comments. The website also contains access to the MTB portal through which users can submit and view product petitions.

Commerce Role

Under the new process, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) is tasked with coordinating interagency input for the Administration and with providing a report to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, as well as the USITC, on each of two determinations for each product under review:

1) Does domestic production of the product subject to petition for duty suspension or reduction exist?

2) Does a domestic producer of the product object to the petition for the duty suspension or reduction?

The definitions used for “domestic production” and “domestic producer” are set out in the MTB legislation.

  • “Domestic production” is the production of a product that is identical to, or like or directly competitive with, a product to which a petition for a duty suspension or reduction would apply, for which a domestic producer has demonstrated production, or imminent production, in the United States.
  • “Domestic producer” is a person that demonstrates production, or imminent production, in the United States of a product that is identical to, or like or directly competitive with, a product to which a petition for a duty suspension or reduction would apply.

Commerce’s Administration Report will also include input from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other relevant Federal agencies, including any technical changes to the product’s article description (as the product is described in the tariff schedule) for each petition that are necessary for purposes of administration when products are presented for importation. Commerce is expected to deliver the report containing its findings for each petition to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, as well as the USITC, in mid-April 2017.

Commerce’s task as set out in the legislation is consistent with the Department’s previous role in the MTB process, wherein for more than 20 years Commerce has been responsible for investigating whether there is domestic production of products proposed for a MTB, in order to prevent domestic manufacturers from being inadvertently injured by the tariff cuts.

USITC Role

Under the law, the USITC is responsible for the collection and publishing of product petitions, as well as public comments on those petitions. It is also responsible for making a determination on each product petition of whether or not that petition should go forward. The USITC will submit a report of its determinations to the congressional committees containing information on each petition, including but not limited to:

  • A determination if domestic production of the product exists.
  • A determination of whether or not a domestic producer objects to the petition.
  • Any technical changes to the product’s article description that are necessary for purposes of administration.
  • An estimate of the amount of loss in revenue to the United States if the duty suspension or reduction takes effect.
  • A list of petitions that it does not recommend for inclusion in a MTB.

The USITC will take into account the Commerce report, including input from CBP, and other Executive agencies, in its report. The USITC will provide its preliminary report to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees in mid-June 2017 and its final report in mid-August 2017. In between the preliminary and final reports, the USITC is directed to consider information from the congressional committees on its report.

Public Comments

No later than January 11, 2017, the USITC will publish a Federal Register notice inviting the public to comment on the product petitions it received during the submission period and published on its website. The public comment period will last 45 days, ending no later than February 25, 2017. In filing a public comment, a U.S. producer of a like or competing product for which a petition was submitted may issue an objection to the proposed tariff reduction or suspension for that product. In doing so, the U.S. producer must provide verification to demonstrate that it produces, or will immanently produce, an identical, like or directly competing product and would thereby be harmed by a tariff reduction on the product described in the petition. The USITC will use these comments and input from the Commerce report to determine whether domestic production of a given product exists.

As an alternative, a U.S. producer may file an objection directly with the Department of Commerce. To do so, contact the Department of Commerce at CommerceMTBs@trade.gov. Producers using this method to file an objection must still provide the verification described above.

Producers that do not wish to file public comments on the USITC portal because they prefer to remain anonymous are encouraged to file their objections through the Department of Commerce at CommerceMTBs@trade.gov. The Department of Commerce will not share information on domestic producers who request to remain anonymous.

Objections from U.S. producers will be accepted by the Department of Commerce up until shortly before it submits its Report, expected to be in mid-April. Again, the USITC is responsible for making the ultimate determination of whether domestic production of a given product exists.

Timing

The new MTB process, as set out in the law, runs from October 2016 through the end of 2017. The dates and time frames below have been obtained from the U.S. ITC and the text of the legislation.

  • October 14 – December 12, 2016: USITC MTB portal open for petition submission.
  • December 13, 2016 – January 10, 2017: USITC compiles petitions.
  • No later than January 11 – Late February, 2017 (45 days): USITC issues Federal Register notice soliciting comments on product petitions via online portal.
  • January 11 – Mid-April, 2017 (90 days): Commerce conducts its review of petitions, at the end of which it submits its report to the congressional committees and the USITC.
  • January 11 – Mid-June, 2017 (150 days): USITC conducts its review of petitions, at end of which it submits its Preliminary Report to the congressional committees, taking into consideration the Commerce Report.
  • Mid-June – mid-August, 2017 (60 days): USITC conducts re-review of individual petitions, based on information submitted by the congressional committees, at the end of which it submits its Final Report to the congressional committees.

This process will repeat again in 2019.

How to Contact

If you would like to contact the Department of Commerce regarding any petition, staff can be reached at the email address CommerceMTBs@trade.gov.

If you have a question or comment about a specific petition, please include the petition number.

Additional MTB Review Cycle Information

U.S. International Trade Commission – https://mtbps.usitc.gov/external/

House Ways and Means Committee page – http://waysandmeans.house.gov/competitive/

Senate Finance Committee announcement of bill signing – http://www.finance.senate.gov/chairmans-news/icymi-hatch-signs-bill-to-boost-american-manufacturers

American Manufacturing and Competitiveness Act of 2016 [Text] –https://www.usitc.gov/documents/mtbps/statute.pdf



Last Updated: 12/8/16 1:35 PM

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