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House passes bill to eliminate more than $1B import tariffs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 402-0 vote, the U.S. House on Jan. 16 passed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) Act of 2018, which is meant to reduce or possibly eliminate more than $1 billion in import tariffs on crop protection ingredients, subsequently lowering costs.

“This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a win for American manufacturers, their workers and families across the country,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), House Ways and Means Committee chair, who sponsored House Resolution 4318.

The new bill would eliminate $1.1 billion in import tariffs over the next three years, while increasing U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion. “With the temporary tariff relief provided by the bill, our manufacturers will see reduced costs for needed production inputs that are simply not available in the United States,” Brady said.

“This will help them better compete globally, create more jobs here at home and make high-quality ‘Made in America’ products more affordable for families.”

Brady said it’s been more than seven years since Congress has passed MTB legislation, when the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act in 2010 expired at the end of 2012.

“Today’s decisive and overwhelmingly bipartisan vote brings us one crucial step closer to providing much-needed tariff relief for American job creators,” he said. “I strongly encourage the Senate to pass this legislation as soon as possible and join the House in taking action to help our manufacturers and workers compete and win.”

The 2016 American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, passed on May 20, established a new process for determining which imported products will be included in a miscellaneous tariff bill, which Congress mainly determined, American Shipper magazine reported.

Under the new MTB process, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will collect petitions requesting reduced or suspended tariffs on particular products, receive public comments on those petitions and make a final determination on whether to include a requested product in a miscellaneous trade bill.

The ITC also obtains input from other federal agencies, including the Commerce Department, in making its determination for each petition. If the bill passes the Senate, it will effectively eliminate on a temporary basis tariffs on imports of nearly 1,700 products not currently available in the United States.

“I am proud to join with my colleagues to support American workers and help American manufacturers of all sizes reduce costs, create jobs and compete globally,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee chair. “Today’s strong bipartisan vote has been years in the making.

“I remained committed to this effort because of the benefits it will bring to communities across the country. For businesses in my home state of Washington, the MTB will provide nearly $16 million in cost savings, which they can instead use to invest in their employees and their products.”

Cindy Smith, agricultural relations director for Gowan USA in Washington, D.C., said, “Because not all of the raw materials needed are produced in the United States, we have found that the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process is extremely helpful in reducing our overall costs and improving our global competitiveness.”

In the interim, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Assoc. of Manufacturers in D.C., said manufacturers and other businesses will face a nearly $1 million tax every day until this issue resolved.

“That’s thanks to billions of dollars in burdensome tariffs that companies have had to pay since the last MTB expired at the end of 2012, just for buying the supplies they need to build products in America,” he said. “Manufacturers and our economy started 2018 strong. Passing legislation like this will help keep the momentum going.”

The bill will move to the Senate for a final vote, then President Trump’s signature, if passed.