Key Notes:

  • The MTB process will return this year for the first time since the law expired in 2012.
  • The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) effectively replaces the U.S. Congress as administrator of the process.
  • The MTB remains a significant opportunity for U.S. companies to eliminate or reduce import duties on products unavailable in the United States.

Today, May 20, 2016, President Obama signed into law the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (AMCA), reinstating and reforming the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process. The MTB process allows U.S. manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and wholesalers to obtain tariff relief for a three-year period (which can be extended) that eliminates or significantly reduces import duties on products unavailable in the United States. The prior MTB law expired in 2012 and was not renewed because of the U.S. Congress’s ban against earmarks or limited tax benefits and its view that the process created earmarks.

The AMCA addresses Congress’s concerns that the prior MTB process, which started and ended in Congress, was too opaque, burdensome and dependent on political access and influence unavailable to smaller companies. The reformed MTB process will be overseen by the ITC, which will accept MTB petitions from U.S. companies, analyze them, consider comments from the public and the executive branch, and issue a public report to Congress with recommendations on those products satisfying MTB standards that will form the basis for an MTB bill. As before, a successful MTB petition will cover a “noncontroversial” or “noncompetitive” product: (1) No domestic producer objects to the import duty elimination or reduction for that product; (2) the import duty elimination or reduction for that product is determined to be in the interest of U.S. “downstream” producers and consumers; and (3) the import duty elimination or reduction for that product must not result in a loss to the U.S. Department of the Treasury of more than $500,000 in annual revenue.

The ITC will initiate the new MTB process by Federal Register notice no later than October 15, 2016. Company petitions will be due within 60 days of the Federal Register notice. No later than 30 days after receipt of these petitions, the ITC will publish on its website a list of submitted petitions for a 45-day public comment period. Following that, the ITC will publish a preliminary report for public comment and then a final report to Congress within 60 days of the preliminary report.

Companies interested in obtaining import duty suspensions or reductions through the MTB petition process should immediately start identifying products that may satisfy the criteria since the ITC can initiate the process at any time between now and October 15, 2016.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on this opportunity, please contact:

David M. Schwartz
202.263.4170
David.Schwartz@ThompsonHine.com

or any member of our International Trade & Customs group.

This advisory bulletin may be reproduced, in whole or in part, with the prior permission of Thompson Hine LLP and acknowledgment of its source and copyright. This publication is intended to inform clients about legal matters of current interest. It is not intended as legal advice. Readers should not act upon the information contained in it without professional counsel.

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