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House Approves Textile Duty Suspensions

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The House of Representatives has approved legislation granting duty-free entry into the United States for some textile man-made fibers in a move that will help make U.S. manufacturers more competitive. The duty suspensions are part of a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) that grants duty-free treatment to raw materials not made in the United States that are used by U.S. manufacturers in their finished products.

Among the more than 800 products approved by the legislation are various man-made acrylic and rayon staple fibers and filaments. Those products had previously been granted duty-free status, but the authorization expired Jan. 1, 2010, as it had not been renewed because of a controversy over so-called earmarks -- provisions added to legislation and passed without the customary process of congressional hearings. That deadlock has been broken in the House, and the duty suspensions will be retroactive to the first of this year once the bill clears the Senate and is signed by President Barack Obama. The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) said U.S. textile manufacturers have experienced long-standing problems sourcing these products in the United States, and companies "will benefit significantly from lower costs for imported products." AMTAC Executive Director Auggie Tantillo said the MTB "is a vital cost reduction measure for many U.S. manufacturers that will boost jobs and domestic production."

As the bill passed the House, the Ways and Means Committee issued a statement saying the legislation will help American companies "grow and support further job creation."  The committee said the Senate Finance and Ways and Means Committees, the Obama administration and the independent U.S. International Trade Commission have carefully reviewed each tariff concession request to ensure that there is no domestic opposition.

The bill still has to win Senate approval, and because there remains some concern over the earmarks issue, there could be some further delay, but the Senate is expected eventually to approve the duty suspensions.

July 27, 2010