Duty Suspension Requests Due by the End of the Month

October 13, 2009

Last week, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, called upon their colleagues in the Senate to submit duty suspension requests to the Committee by October 30. Every other year, Congress opens up a window of time for U.S. companies to request that duties be eliminated or reduced on imported products that are not produced in the United States.  This is known as the Duty Suspension process and results in the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB).

There are two main criteria for a product to qualify for a duty suspension request. The request must be “non-controversial” meaning that the tariff revenue lost must not exceed $500,000 and the products must not be produced in the United States. All requests will undergo a thorough vetting process by the Senate Finance Committee, U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP). If the requests are approved and included in the MTB, duties will be eliminated or reduced for a period of at least two years. 

 A duty suspension request will not reduce or eliminate tariffs retroactively, or reduce or eliminate tariffs imposed as a result of U.S. antidumping duty orders, countervailing duty orders, safeguard measures, or retaliatory sanctions.

 Because the window to file a request is limited, companies are encouraged to act now to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Members of Steptoe’s Government Affairs and Public Policy and International Trade and Investment practices are available to advise companies on the process for applying. 

Steptoe's bipartisan and broadly based Government Affairs and Public Policy practice is composed of more than a dozen professionals in Washington who have decades of experience working in and with the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.  Members of the team include former Democratic Senator J. Bennett Johnston, former Chairman on the Senate Energy Committee and Acting Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as former Republican Congressman Tom Bliley, who served as Chair of the House Commerce (and Energy) Committee.  The practice provides clients with unique insight into the political, legislative, and regulatory processes affecting their businesses and ensures that clients receive the best substantive and political resources to promote and defend their public policy interests. The Government Affairs practice works closely with Steptoe’s International Trade & Investment practice in advocating on behalf of clients on trade policy issues. 

To learn more, please contact Leslie Belcher, Senior Government Relations Advisor, at 202.429.3906 or lbelcher@steptoe.com