ANNOUNCEMENT 30 Apr 2012In April 2012, the government of the United States of America announced a change in import duties.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
The number of bills now under consideration for inclusion in the MTB is too large to be summarized here. For further details on the MTB process (both technical and political) see http://www.washingtontradereport.com/WTRVol28No13.pdf. For the most recent bills see http://www.washingtontradereport.com/joomla/2012/WTRVol28No17.pdf.
The U.S. Congress is presently in the process of developing a miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB), a measure that typically includes hundreds of separate provisions to reduce or (in most cases) suspend altogether the application of tariffs on specific items. Congress had enacted such bills many times since the early 1980s, but this year there is a controversy between those members of Congress who see the MTB as a tariff-cutting measure and those who view it as one form of "earmark" (i.e., a special provision of law intended to benefit a very narrow interest). That controversy, which is being fought between factions within the Republican Party (which holds a majority in the House of Representatives), raises questions as to whether this bill will ever be enacted.
The deadline for members of Congress to submit bills for consideration in the MTB was April 30, 2012, though in reality some were submitted as late as mid-May. Roughly 2000 such bills were submitted, which will now be subject to a process of vetting. That process is intended to ensure that the items are non-controversial (e.g., no domestic production) and that no single item causes more than $500,000 in foregone tariff revenues. At the same time that the technical process of vetting continues, Republicans in Congress will deal with the political question on which they are divided.
The trade committees in Congress on May 24, 2012 formallyinvited public comment on any of the bills; they will keep the comment periodopen through June 22, 2012. For the complete list of bills and relatedinformation, interested persons can go to the Senate or the House committee site. Information onsubmitting a comment is also included. All comments must be submittedelectronically.