Bill will provide millions in tariff relief for N.C. manufacturers

RALEIGH — A bill that would allow for reduction or elimination of tariffs on nearly 1,700 imported products appears poised to pass the U.S. House and head to President Trump’s desk this week according to Capitol Hill reports. The bill, known at the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) Act of 2018, was sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and passed the U.S. Senate on July 26 with amendments to the original House bill. The original House bill passed unanimously in January and had been awaiting action in the Senate.

Much of the bill is focused on products imported to the U.S. not manufactured or available domestically. Those items include consumer products like footwear and toasters but also include items used in U.S. manufacturing like chemicals and other raw materials. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the last MTB expired on December 31, 2012, and since then businesses have paid billions of dollars of tariffs on products. The new bill would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the three years. The manufacturers group called the bill “a big deal” that would boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion.

“Manufacturers and other businesses face what amounts to a nearly $1-million-a-day tax every additional day this issue goes unresolved,” said Jay Timmons, NAM President and CEO. “That’s thanks to billions of dollars in burdensome tariffs that companies have had to pay since the last MTB expired at the end of 2012, just for buying the supplies they need to build products in America,”

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 4,252 people in Stanly County are employed in the manufacturing industry. The N.C. Chamber of Commerce along with manufacturing groups are urging passage of the bill. “This key tariff-relief legislation is long overdue and would have significant benefits for N.C. manufacturers. We encourage Congress to act swiftly to pass this bill,” said Gary J, Salamido, Vice President of Government Affairs for the N.C. Chamber.

Glen Raven, a N.C. textile manufacturer, is a leading manufacturer of performance fabrics for the furniture, automotive, safety, marine and sun shade industries. Leib Oehmig, President of Glen Raven, spoke in support of the MTB prior to the its passage in the Senate. “Since the raw materials required to manufacture many of these fabrics are not available in the United States, Glen Raven relies on the MTB to ensure these materials can be sourced competitively. The expiration of the MTB has resulted in a significant increase in our manufacturing costs, which makes companies like ours less competitive in the global marketplace,” said Oehmig.

Research Triangle-based Bayer CropScience is also affected by the MTB. The agricultural chemical company’s VP of Supply Chain, Mike Cockrill, said that manufacturers stand to lose $748 million in the next three years without the MTB. “Since the expiration of the last MTB on December 31, 2012, BCS has lost millions of dollars in duty relief. BCS is making significant investments in its U.S. manufacturing operations in part due to the competitive benefits of the MTB,” said Cockrill.

“My top three priorities are still jobs, jobs and jobs. This is a critical bipartisan measure to help level the playing field and protect American manufacturing jobs,” said Rep. Richard Hudson.

Because the bill was changed by Senate amendment, the bill must be voted on in its final form in the House. That vote was expected to occur on Tuesday, after press time.