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Industry faces deadline for tariff relief bill

Published September 27, 2016
UPDATED

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) — PeopleForBikes' Katy Hartnett wants to hear from suppliers who want Congress to ease or suspend import tariffs on parts, accessories or products that they sell in the U.S.

Hartnett, government relations director at PFB, said the ITC will begin soliciting petitions for tariff relief on October 14 and will do so for the following 60 days. 

Hartnett, who has a long history of working on transportation issues and who joined PFB in 2014, said that to get an item on the list the key requirements are simple:

There should be no manufacturing or limited production of the product in the U.S., and easing or removing the duty should cost the federal government less than $500,000 annually in revenue.

In the past, products like bicycle speedometers, child carriers, chain covers, unicycles, steel tubing, bicycle rims, brakes, cranks and other parts enjoyed duty relief.

"While all these items may be good candidates for relief, we also need to know what other products might satisfy the criteria provided by the new law," a PFB notice sent to the industry said.

PFB and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association are working together to finalize that list for submission under a new law, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, passed by Congress and signed last May by President Obama.

Duty suspension, as the process is normally called, at one time had been fairly routine. Legislators would submit a product for consideration and it would be added to legislation suspending or easing tariff rates if products met the requirements.

But such submissions became entangled in debates over earmarks that Congress has banned. To get around that ban, Congress agreed that individual companies could submit requests to the ITC seeking tariff relief, Hartnett explained.

As part of the new legislation, however, members of Congress cannot add any item for tariff suspension that has not been vetted by the ITC. The BPSA and PFB are preparing an industrywide petition and will submit it to the ITC.

The ITC will vet the products and also seek out those who may oppose duty relief for a specific item, Hartnett added. Once the list is compiled, the ITC will send it to the House Ways and Means Committee and to the Senate Finance Committee. The committees will reconcile the items and submit a final bill for passage.

Hartnett said the industry has about three weeks to finalize its wish list. For more information, Hartnett can be reached at katy@peopleforbikes.org.

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