Regulatory and Legal Reform

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Lack of Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Hamstrings Manufacturers

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As manufacturers continue to lead America’s economic recovery, they’re doing so in the face of a real—and avoidable—challenge. Because Congress has failed to act, manufacturers in the United States have been operating without a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill since January, which has led to higher prices, greater difficulty in competing with businesses overseas and harm to American workers.

The context: The MTB temporarily eliminates tariffs on imported materials that are either not made in the United States at all or are not available in sufficient quantities. It boosts American competitiveness and ensures that U.S.-made products are competitive with products manufactured outside of the country.

  • Typically, the MTB is reauthorized every few years. In 2018, Congress unanimously passed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018, which reauthorized the MTB through 2020. Unfortunately, the bill expired at the end of last year, and Congress has failed to act, leaving manufacturers in the United States paying extra taxes of $1.3 million per day on vital products that are not available in this country.

What’s happening now: While the Senate passed MTB legislation in June 2021 as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the House still needs to act. If the House doesn’t pass bipartisan MTB legislation soon, manufacturers, their workers and their communities will continue to face unnecessary additional costs—as both Dow and Element Electronics have.

Impact on manufacturers in the U.S.: Manufacturers like Dow are feeling the impact. As prices increase for everyone, manufacturers are also battling rising costs, which makes it difficult to manage cost-effective production and impacts the ability to sustain and expand opportunities for American workers.

  • “For Dow, the MTB supports as many as 6,000 jobs across the United States, from Michigan and Texas to Illinois, Kentucky and beyond,” said Eric Friedman, the senior director of federal government affairs at Dow. “Dow is the largest materials sciences company in North America. It is critical for us to ensure that we have competitive access to our essential inputs for our U.S. operations and can manage costs It speaks directly to our U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and the incredible workforce that drives innovation.”

Meanwhile, the tariffs also create higher prices for consumers, making it more difficult for Americans to purchase goods from U.S. companies.

  • “The MTB’s expiration has reverberations across multiple product lines that Americans use every day, from textiles to cosmetics to cleaning products and insulation,” said Friedman. “These value chains are inextricably tied together. Rising costs for chemicals impacts the 96% of manufacturing downstream that uses our products to make finished goods for both U.S. and global markets. Making our supply chains cost competitive through MTB also supports our consumers who need to manage their costs.”

The harm to small business: For television producer Element Electronics, headquartered in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the lapse of the MTB has caused a significant readjustment, forcing them to downsize their business and lose workers.

  • “As a result of the lapse in the MTB…Element has gone from operating at full capacity and over 520 team members at the end of [2020] to operating just four lines, and employment has dropped to 370 team members,” said David Baer, chief operating officer and general counsel at Element Electronics, in recent congressional testimony.

For Element, restoring the MTB is an urgent matter that would help them compete with companies overseas and reengage with consumers across the country and around the world.

  • “Leveling the playing field through retroactively restoring the MTB…will allow Element’s employees to once again successfully compete against anyone,” said Baer. “Moreover, passing this bipartisan legislation will allow Element and many other companies to get back to doing what we do best—employing hundreds of hard-working Americans in good-paying jobs in a community that relies on Element as one of its primary sources of economic growth.”

What we’re saying: “The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill supports manufacturers and their workers who make things in America and who have been instrumental to America’s economic resurgence,” said Ali Aafedt, director of trade facilitation policy at the NAM. “Amidst a global pandemic, severe supply chain shortages and other hurdles, Congress’ lack of action on the MTB is yet another challenge. Congress has the opportunity to support manufacturers, workers and consumers in the United States by passing bipartisan MTB legislation by the end of the year.”

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