15 Feb 2018
House Approves Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, Considers GSP Renewal
The House of Representatives voted with no objection on 16 January to approve the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2017 (H.R. 4318), which would reduce or suspend import duties through 31 December 2020 on nearly 1,700 products that are not otherwise available in the United States. It is unclear if or when the Senate might vote on the identical companion bill (S. 2108). The last MTB expired on 31 December 2012.
H.R. 4318 includes a broad range of products of potential interest to Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exporters. A majority of the products that made it to the final House bill are chemical inputs. Also in the legislation are various plastics and plastic products, camera flotation devices, rubber pet toys, automotive gaskets, conveyor belting of vulcanised rubber, life jackets for pets, food and beverage bags, sleeping bag stuff sacks, non-woven polypropylene bags, novelty backpacks, binocular carrying cases, bags designed for janitorial carts, cases for electronic games or accessories, women’s leather jackets, leather gloves, boxing gloves, leather belts, woven wood and bamboo products, cashmere and camel hair, cashmere and camel hair yarn, woven fabric of vicuna hair, woven cotton gauze, pique fabric, 50D nylon, polyvinyl alcohol yarn, high tenacity single rayon yarn, polypropylene monofilament, elastic water-repellent woven polyester fabric, acrylic filament tow, acrylic and viscose rayon staple fibres, hand-tufted wool carpets, various garments incorporating snaps used to attach a heart rate monitor, women’s and girls’ man-made fibre knitted vests, men’s and boys’ silk knitted pullovers and cardigans, girls’ cotton knitted coveralls and jumpsuits, neoprene wading socks, various woven garments, nylon wool packs, sleeping bag shells, textile ice bags, various footwear and headwear products, patio umbrella frames, plastic plants, glass beads, cookware covers, glass-ceramic cookware, padlocks, manicure and pedicure sets, various machinery and equipment, swim goggles, projection screens, multi-metres, LED lamps, golf club heads, tennis and squash rackets, volleyballs, basketballs, fitness equipment and tripod camera mounts, among many other products.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (Republican-Texas) indicated that the bi-partisan, bi-cameral MTB legislation is a “win for American manufacturers, their workers, and families across the country” because manufacturers “will see reduced costs for needed production inputs that are simply not available in the United States.” According to Brady, the duty relief will help U.S. companies compete globally and increase domestic employment by making high-quality and affordable products in the United States.
In other legislative news, senior Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced on 8 February a bill (H.R. 4979) to renew for a period of three years (through 31 December 2020) the Generalised System of Preferences, a long-standing U.S. trade preference programme that provides tariff relief to thousands of products from 121 least-developed and developing countries. If the legislation is approved as expected, duty-free treatment would be provided to qualifying products from beneficiary countries retroactive to 1 January 2018. The legislation, which could potentially be considered by the full House under the suspension of the rules mechanism during the week of 12 February, would also make technical changes to update the process for considering “competitive need limitations” under the programme.