Today, the U.S. International Trade Commission began accepting comments on the more than three thousand petitions filed with the agency last year requesting that the Government temporarily suspend import duties on products ranging from herbicidal chemicals to ping-pong tables.
Traditionally, duty reductions were obtained by having members of Congress sponsor individual bills on specific goods, which would then then packaged together in a combined “miscellaneous tariff bill.” However, after the last few attempts to put together such a bill failed due to concerns that the individual bills constituted earmarks, Congress passed the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, which passed the authority to receiving and vetting duty reduction proposals on to the Commission.
As in the past, an individual petition will only make it into the final proposed bill if the duty loss that would occur is less than $500,000/year. Further, proposals regarding goods manufactured in the United States are highly unlikely to make it through the petition process. Likewise, if a petition has been crafted to benefit a specific imported product to the disadvantage of identical or directly competitive imports, this may also weigh against the petition’s inclusion in the final bill.
Having collected petitions for duty reductions last year, the Commission is now seeking comments on the submitted petitions. Commenters may oppose, support, or provide neutral information with respect to specific petitions. Companies that believe that their U.S. production operations could be negatively affected by a petition may be particularly interested in filing comments in opposition. Similarly, importers of products that are like or directly competitive with the products subject to petitions may also be interested in filing opposition comments, while parties that stand to benefit from petitions may wish to supply information to round out the Commission’s understanding of the relevant industry or product.
Comments must be received by 5:15 p.m EST on February 24, 2017, and must be filed through the Commission’s online commenting system. A complete list of submitted petitions can be viewed here.