Congress has a number of important issues it needs to address in a short amount of time.  While the Fiscal Cliff is the focal point of this lame duck session, another critical piece of legislation is awaiting consideration – the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB).   This vital package is a competitiveness bill that has been supporting and growing jobs for thirty years, and it is particularly important right now, given the major challenges manufacturers are facing in a difficult global economy.

The MTB reduces or eliminates import duties on essential manufacturing inputs and products that are not produced in the United States.  Manufacturers rely on these products for their manufacturing processes and can’t make their products without them.  The duty suspensions currently in place will expire on December 31st and if Congress fails to act it will increase costs on job creators, damaging their competitiveness in a challenging global economy and threatening manufacturing jobs in this country.

It is 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States than to manufacture in the home markets of our trading partners.  Failure to pass the MTB will increase costs for manufacturers here, putting manufacturers in the United States at a disadvantage.  Manufacturers simply cannot afford another tax increase or more uncertainty. The MTB legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for decades, and now Congress has the opportunity to pass this jobs-supporting, competitiveness-enhancing bill before the end of the year.

Of all the challenging issues facing Congress right now and with our economy showing signs of a slow recovery, the MTB should be seen for what is – a jobs bill. Manufacturers all over the United States urge Congress to identify a path to passage for this critical legislation.  We simply can’t afford not to act on this bill.

Jessica Lemos is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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