On 11 October 2019 the US International Trade Commission (ITC) began accepting petitions as part of the 2019 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process. Under this process, a member of the public may request that Congress temporarily eliminate or reduce duty on an imported article for three years. Petitions are due no later than 10 December 2019 at 5:15pm Eastern Standard Time via the ITC online portal.
The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act 2016 (19 USC § 1332 note) establishes the authority, criteria and procedure for the public to request the temporary suspension or reduction of duties on imported articles. Although one of the purposes of the act is to reduce production costs for US manufacturers and ensure that foreign competitors are not at a competitive sourcing advantage, the duty reductions are not limited to manufacturing inputs or raw materials. Requests can be submitted for any imported articles that meet the criteria below.
Petitions must be submitted using the ITC's MTB Petition System online portal at mtbps.usitc.gov, which contains guidance for filing. The petition must propose a description that includes a specific class or kind of imported merchandise and briefly lists the discernible physical characteristics of the product at the time of importation. It must also identify the proper eight-digit classification of the product under the Harmonised Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The petitioner may apply for a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ruling to assist.
To receive the ITC's recommendation for inclusion in the MTB, a petitioner must certify or demonstrate the following:
- The petitioner is a likely beneficiary of the duty suspension or reduction – that is, "an individual or entity likely to utilize, or benefit directly from the utilization of, an article that is the subject of a petition for a duty suspension or reduction". This might include a firm, importer, manufacturer or government.
- There is no domestic production of an article "identical to, or directly competitive product with", the article to which the petition would apply. Petitions must generally be non-controversial, meaning without objection from a domestic producer.
- The duty suspension or reduction is administrable by the CBP. The ITC may combine similar petitions for this purpose.
- The estimated loss in revenues due to the duty suspension or reduction cannot exceed $500,000 per calendar year. A petitioner might consider requesting a reduction instead of a suspension, or a smaller reduction, to bring the expected revenue loss within this amount.
- The duty suspension or reduction will be available to any person importing the article.
The petition must also contain various data elements, including:
- an estimate of both total the value and dutiable value for the product for the next five calendar years;
- an estimate of the share of total imports represented by the petitioner's imports of the subject article;
- the names of any importers and domestic producers of the article, if available;
- a certification of completeness and correctness; and
- an acknowledgement of the petitioner's awareness that the information submitted is subject to ITC audit and verification.
Under the MTB timeline, the ITC will post the petitions online for public comment, including objections, within 30 days of the closing of the petitioning period. The comment period will remain open for 45 days. Next, through an interagency process, the ITC will accept withdrawals, make corrections and provide its recommendations on the petitions to Congress, which will consider them for inclusion in an MTB as a Heading 9902 HTSUS provision. If the bill is enacted, the duty suspensions or reductions would be effective from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2023.
The act reformed a process whereby parties would request duty savings by direct lobbying to Congress. During the 2016 MTB process, the most recent and the first under the act, the ITC considered a total of 2,524 petitions, 72% of which it recommended for inclusion. The resulting Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act 2018 was expected to provide up to $1.1 billion in duty savings on 1,660 imported articles between 13 October 2018 and 31 December 2020.
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