Possible Opening for Temporary Duty Relief on Sporting Goods
Having cleared the decks of long-pending trade legislation with October’s passage of GSP renewal legislation and implementing bills for the U.S. free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, the House Ways & Means Committee is now exploring possible options for moving a miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB). As reported, MTBs serve as the vehicle for provisions to temporarily suspend the rates of duty on articles that generally are not produced in the United States or that are otherwise non-controversial.
The last Congress passed an MTB that included duty suspension provisions for several categories of basketballs and volleyballs, all of which are set to expire on December 31, 2012. A second MTB consisting of an additional 300 duty suspension provisions -- including for golf club driver heads, golf umbrellas and ski poles -- was dropped at the 11th hour from an omnibus trade bill passed by Congress last December.
As reported, the earmark bans adopted the House of Representatives and Senate Republicans have posed a new hurdle to MTBs by defining earmarks to include “limited tariff benefits,” which in turn are defined as provisions that modify the U.S. tariff schedule (HTS) in a manner that benefits 10 or fewer entities. Many duty suspension bills might be considered limited tariff benefits because their product scopes are drawn very narrowly because of a procedural rule requiring that their duties-foregone revenue impact not exceed $500,000 annually.
SGMA and other supporters of the duty suspension process are currently engaged in discussions with the House Ways & Means Committee and individual Members to try to find a path for moving an MTB this Congress. Encouragingly, Ways & Means Committee leaders are expressed support for duty suspension bills generally and have vowed to try to resolve the earmark problem.
Should the Ways & Means Committee decide to launch an MTB process this Congress, it is likely that process would commence early in 2012. Accordingly, SGMA members should begin now to assess whether there are any products for which they may want to pursue duty suspension bills, whether they be extensions of existing provisions set to expire on December 31, 2012, or duty suspensions on other sporting goods products not currently covered by duty suspension provisions.
POSTED: December 14, 2011