On October 1, 2009, the Senate Finance Committee announced that US senators may introduce individual tariff suspension bills to be included in the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). MTBs offer importers an opportunity to save substantial amounts in customs duties for as long as three years. In order to qualify for a duty suspension or reduction, a proposed tariff modification must raise no objection from other senators, cost under $500,000 per year in loss of revenue to the US Treasury, and be administrable by US Customs and Border Protection.
The committee is aiming to have a completed MTB bill by Thanksgiving, setting the stage for passage of the MTB by the end of the year. An MTB aggregates into a single bill the individual tariff suspension bills introduced by legislators. The last MTB included duty suspensions and reductions on more than 700 products covering a wide range of industries.
The deadline for senators to submit their individual tariff suspension bills to the Senate Finance Committee is October 30, 2009. After its submission to the committee, each bill is reviewed by relevant government agencies, including the International Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, and Customs and Border Protection. The review ensures that the individual bill meets the eligibility requirements for duty suspension. This is an opportunity for every company that imports goods to potentially reduce its import duty burden. In addition, duty suspensions in effect under the previous MTB expire on December 31, 2009. Any importer currently benefitting from these duty suspensions must work with one of its senators to introduce a new bill extending the duty suspension under the new MTB.
In order to ensure that it qualifies for the MTB, an importer must:
- Review its imported products to make sure that they are eligible for a duty suspension under the MTB;
- Work closely with US Senate staff in crafting the individual suspension bill for its products; and
- Communicate with the International Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, and Customs and Border Protection to address any issues arising from the review process.