At the end of 2016, about 3200 petitions were filed with the ITC to suspend tariffs on products ranging from chemical manufacturing inputs to consumer products. Over the next several months, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will be reviewing and accepting public comments on these petitions. Many of these petitions may be non-controversial, but some could threaten other US companies that produce competitive products. For U.S. companies that may have concerns regarding newly filed MTB petitions, the window is now open to raise objections.

The tariff suspension petitions are the core of the latest version of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process that seeks to suspend tariffs on products not produced in the United States for the benefit of consumers – often manufacturing companies as the these tariff suspensions frequently involve input products. In coming months, the ITC working with other federal agencies (most notably the Department of Commerce and Customs and Border Protection) will review all of the filed petitions and public comments will be sought. By mid to late 2017, this process aims to produce legislation to suspend tariffs on many of the products named in these petitions for three years.

MTB petitions are initiated by private companies, which are motivated by the financial benefits to them of these suspensions rather than to the competitive impact they might have on other American companies. The primary purpose of the extensive vetting and public comment process is to identify those suspensions that might adversely affect domestic companies.

The rules and procedures for identifying objections to MTB petitions are designed to give companies that feel they might be adversely impacted because they domestically produce the same product for which the MTB suspension is sought. There are two upcoming opportunities to lodge objections/raise concerns:

  1. Vetting Process. The ITC and the Department of Commerce have already started contacting domestic industries that may have concerns on petitions. Relevant agencies have been willing to accept – and even solicit input – from interested companies.
  2. Public Comment. On January 11, 2017 the ITC is scheduled to post all the MTB petitions it is considering on its website. This is an opportunity for interested domestic interests to review the complete list of petitions filed. The deadline for posting public comments– whether in support of opposition – is February 24, 2017.