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Lawmakers Announce New Process to Consider Temporary Duty Suspensions or Reductions

Bi-partisan legislation to reform the process of developing and enacting miscellaneous trade bills, which suspend duties on imported inputs and products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability, was introduced on 13 April in both the House (H.R. 4923) and Senate (S. 2794). The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the House bill on 14 April and is expected to mark it up during the week of 18 April.

Under these bills, the MTB process would begin exclusively through petitions made by U.S. businesses to the U.S. International Trade Commission rather than via legislation introduced by members of Congress. The USITC would analyse these petitions, taking into account comments received from the public and the White House, and then issue a public report to Congress with its recommendations regarding those products that meet the MTB standards. The Ways and Means Committee would then examine the USITC’s recommendations and draft an MTB, which could exclude products recommended by the USITC but could not add products that were not recommended. The committee would have to certify that there are no spending earmarks and publish a list of any limited tariff benefits (tax cuts that benefit ten or fewer businesses). The House and Senate would then consider the MTB within existing rules.

The USITC would be required to initiate this revised process by soliciting petitions no later than 15 October 2016 and repeat it no later than 15 October 2019. The bills provide deadlines for other steps in the process as well.

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