Missouri Manufacturers Can Now Claim Tariff Relief After McCaskill Reforms to Simplify Trade Law

Senator’s plan to tighten lid on earmark ban and bolster job creation for American manufacturers is now law; Missouri companies have 45 days to request a duty reduction under reformed process

WASHINGTON – A new law from U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to simplify trade processes for America’s manufacturers and guard against the return of Congressional earmarks has gone into effect, giving Missouri companies until December 12 to apply for a duty reduction under the new merit-based process.

“After a long fight to get this bill signed into law, small businesses in Missouri and across the country can finally seek tariff relief in a fair, streamlined, and merit-based way,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor and the Senate’s leading Democratic voice against earmarks. “In the next several weeks, manufacturers can take full advantage of a more level playing field to complete in the global market—much-needed reforms to an outdated system that’ll boost jobs in Missouri and American competitiveness around the world.”

The new law, streamlines the process for companies to receive tariff relief by allowing them to submit their proposals directly to the International Trade Commission and explicitly prohibits any special consideration for tariff reductions requested by an elected official. Once the Commission reviews and accepts any proposals, those proposals will be sent to Congress for final approval. These changes would bolster accountability by lessening the chance for backdoor earmarks and would reduce barriers for job-creators, who would no longer be forced to spend time and resources on hiring lobbyists to secure Congressional support at the start of the process.

Under the rules announced by the International Trade Commission, businesses seeking tariff reductions can apply using a portal on the Commission’s website. The application period ends on December 12, 2016.

In today's high-tech and globalized economy, Missouri and American companies need a host of specialized materials, such as certain fibers or chemicals, to manufacture products. Often, those materials are not produced in the United States and can only be purchased abroad. Tariffs on importing those specialized materials produced overseas, however, can drive up costs, putting American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage to their foreign competitors. In some cases, tariffs on these specialized imports are so expensive that companies have decided it’s in their best interest to move production from the U.S. to overseas altogether, hurting American job growth.

The previous rules allowed companies that require products from overseas to obtain tariff relief. Congress has regularly passed a “Miscellaneous Tariff Bill” (MTB) comprised of hundreds of tariff reductions for such products. In order to have a tariff reduction provision included in the MTB, however, companies had to first find a member of Congress to sponsor the provision. Only when a provision had been introduced as a stand-alone bill could it be sent to the International Trade Commission. The Commission then reviewed all provisions, and often found that some of these un-vetted bills actually hurt U.S. manufacturers. The provisions that meet standards were bundled into a package that becomes the MTB. In order to get a tariff relief bill introduced, these companies previously needed to hire lobbyists to ask a member of Congress to sponsor their relief measure, placing a difficult burden on many small businesses.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/jobs to learn more about McCaskill’s fight to expand Missouri jobs.