Michigan’s representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, has outlined a long list of trade legislation that they hoped to complete this year. That list includes:
1. Renewing the “trade promotion authority” or TPA to allow the White House to submit trade agreements to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without amendments. The U.S. Trade Representative wants to work with Congress on a TPA bill so he can finish talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. TPA would also be used for recently launched talks with the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
2. Renewing the Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP, a program that waives duties on thousands of goods from developing countries.
3. Passing a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, or MTB. This bill helps domestic manufacturers by waiving duties on raw materials and certain process goods made outside the United States.
4. Passing legislation to modernize the Customs Service, focusing on the smoother movement of goods across the U.S. border and better enforcement of U.S. laws against unfairly priced imports.
The drawback community is very interested in the last item because drawback simplification would be part of that bill. In March of this year the Senate Finance Committee introduced S.662 The Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2013, which included Drawback Simplification in Title IV Sec. 402.
Comstock/Holt has been involved in meetings and conference calls with Senate staff to review the wording in S.662 making sure that the simplification concepts agreed to by Customs and the Trade Support Network are fully implemented by the legislation.
Late last year Ways and Means introduced a Customs Reauthorization bill which also included Drawback, but that bill died at the close of the last Congress. We are now waiting to see what the new House version of a customs reauthorization bill will look like.
With so many pieces of trade legislation pending, it is also possible Congress could combine them into a huge omnibus trade bill, as it has occasionally done in the past. We’ll keep you posted!