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Correct Classification Vital for Successful MTB Petitions, ITC Says

Thursday, May 23, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Stating that correct classification is a vital step toward achieving a successful miscellaneous tariff bill filing, the International Trade Commission is recommending that prospective petitioners research the HTSUS classification of their goods and consider requesting a binding ruling from U.S. Customs and Border Protection before submitting MTB requests this fall.

MTBs suspend or reduce duties on imported inputs and products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability, and each approved duty modification can result in savings of up to $500,000 per year. Under a process revised by the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, petitions for duty suspensions or reductions are submitted to the ITC rather than via legislation introduced by members of Congress. The ITC is expected to accept petitions for the next MTB cycle beginning Oct. 15 and the portal for filing petitions will remain open for only 60 days.

Each MTB provision is evaluated against several criteria, including whether it is enforceable by CBP; i.e., whether it includes a correct tariff classification and uses descriptive language that clearly and narrowly describes the product in a manner that supports that classification and is administrable by CBP. The ITC states that many of the nearly 700 petitions it did not recommend to Congress for inclusion in an MTB during the last cycle had “issues” in these areas.

To avoid such problems this time around, the ITC urges prospective petitioners to act now to ensure their goods are correctly classified well in advance of the filing deadline. Specifically, companies can research the HTSUS classification of their goods via CBP’s rulings database, the Customs Rulings Online Search Service. If there is no applicable ruling on CROSS, they can request a binding ruling from CBP’s National Commodities Specialist Division. The ITC notes that CBP can take up to 30 days to issue a binding ruling if all the necessary information is included with the request and thus encourages companies not to put off requesting a ruling if they know they are going to submit an MTB petition this fall.

Customs and trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg has substantial experience preparing successful MTB petitions. For more information, please contact customs attorney Deb Stern at (305) 894-1007.

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