Businesses urge Congress to expedite passage of tariff bill

Businesses urge Congress to expedite passage of tariff bill
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A diverse group of nearly 200 businesses and associations are calling on Congress to expedite passage of a bill that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials needed for production that aren’t readily available in the United States.

In a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday, the groups argued that the long-overdue Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which expired five years ago, will collectively save their businesses millions of dollars a year while making them more globally competitive.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which spearheaded the letter, has maintained steady pressure on Congress to pass new legislation even before the last bill expired in 2012.

"Congress now has the opportunity to address this self-imposed tax on U.S. competitiveness," the letter says.

NAM estimates that the legislation would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the next three years and boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion.

The bill “plays an important role in the operations of domestic manufacturers as it corrects, on a temporary basis, historical distortions in the U.S. tariff code by eliminating border tariffs on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability,” the letter says.

“Such distortions undermine the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States by imposing unnecessary costs and, in some cases, imposing a higher cost on manufacturers’ inputs than the competing foreign imported finished product,” the businesses wrote.

The groups signing the letter range from large companies such as Intel and Bayer to state Chambers of Commerce, along with small- and medium-sized manufacturers in industries including chemicals, agriculture, textiles and footwear.

The bill includes nearly 1,700 eligible petitions for the tariff break as reported by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which vetted applications for duty relief.

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the measure at the end of October and it was officially introduced on Nov. 9.

So far, there is no timeline to consider the legislation, according to a Republican aide.

The bill has bipartisan support so may be a potential candidate to hitch a ride on any other legislation that lawmakers want completed by year’s end, including a spending bill.