by Kristi Ellis
WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a bill Tuesday night that will benefit textile producers and apparel brands by establishing a new process for eliminating tariffs on imported inputs and products not commercially available in the U.S.
The Senate passed the bill known as the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016” by unanimous consent and it will now go to the president’s desk for his signature.
The move was hailed by brands and retailers, a large coalition of which has called on Congress to pass the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016.”
The legislation is seen as a first step to revitalizing a process that U.S. brands and textile producers have relied on for years known as the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process. Congress has periodically approved MTB bills, suspending duties on millions of dollars’ worth of certain imported components to help U.S. manufacturers better compete.
But the last bill expired in 2012 and was never renewed. That left companies having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tariffs on imported components that they need to make their products because many of the inputs are no longer made in the U.S.
“We congratulate Congress for moving so quickly to pass the MTB reform bill. This bill creates a transparent and easy to understand process that will enable U.S. apparel, footwear and textile companies to reduce tariff costs on inputs and other articles no longer available in the United States,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and chief executive officer at the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “The resulting savings will create American jobs, spur innovation, and benefit U.S. families.”
“We urge President Barack Obama to quickly sign this important legislation into law, and for the U.S. International Trade Commission to launch this new MTB process as soon as possible,” Helfenbein added.
“Retailers applaud the Senate for joining the House of Representatives in support of legislation that will promote economic growth and save consumers money,” said Hun Quach, vice president for international trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “The MTB will help spur investment and new jobs here in the United States, and we urge President Obama to sign this legislation when it reaches his desk.”
Under the legislation, local businesses will petition the U.S. International Trade Commission, which then will solicit comments from the public and the administration, conduct an analysis and issue a public report to Congress with recommendations regarding products that meet the MTB criteria, including that there is no domestic production.
The two key committees in the House and Senate can introduce MTB legislation containing duty suspensions for scores of imported products and components, which must also pass before companies would again see duty breaks.