A group representing US apparel and footwear brands and importers is urging the US Senate to approve a bill that would temporarily reduce or suspend duties on certain raw material imports.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is calling for quick passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act after its unanimous bipartisan approval by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday (16 January).

The legislation would reduce or eliminate import duties on more than 1,700 products (both inputs and finished goods) that are not made in the United States, including dozens of footwear, apparel, travel goods and textile items.

Once approved, the bill would provide the apparel and footwear industry with much needed duty relief, the AAFA says, pointing out that in 2016 the industry generated more than 50% of duties collected by the US government despite only accounting for 6% of total US imports by value.

Congress has not passed a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) since 2012, but it would collectively save more then $1bn in import tariffs over the next three years, and boost US manufacturing output by more than $3.1bn.

"The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill is bipartisan and provides much-needed duty relief on products and inputs that are not available domestically," explains Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the AAFA. "Our business community is firmly behind this bill, because it has a defined purpose and will be helpful on all counts."

He adds: "This bill will provide real benefits for US businesses and result in lower prices for US families, opportunities to hire more US workers, and the opportunity to reinvest in product innovation. We hope the Senate will be able to quickly follow suit."

The bill corrects, on a temporary basis, historical distortions in the US tariff code by eliminating border tariffs on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability.

These distortions can undermine the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States by imposing unnecessary costs and, in some cases, imposing a higher cost on manufacturers' inputs than the competing foreign imported finished product.