Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Agathon Associates Submits Comments on Wool Trust Fund

Today Agathon Associates wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund and Agriculture Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund, Final rule with request for comments, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("the Department") March 9, 2015, in the Federal Register at 80 FR 12321 et seq. Agathon Associates, David Trumbull principal, consults internationally to the textile industry. Current clients include domestic U.S. producers of wool yarns and fabrics of the kind specified in the Rule and importers of wool fiber, top, yarn, and fabric of the kind specified in the Rule.

Title V of the Trade and Development Act of 2000 (May 18, 2000, Pub. Law 106-200, Stat. 303) provided for duty reductions and suspensions relating to certain wool and wool products, payments to U.S. manufacturers of certain wool textiles and apparel, and a trust fund to promote the U.S. sheep industry. For convenience, I refer to these provisions collectively as the "Wool Program." The Wool Program was carefully crafted to assist every sector of the U.S. wool industry, sheep farmers, processors of fiber into yarns and fabrics, and apparel producers. From 2002 through 2008 Congress modified the Wool Program four times (Public Law No 107-210 (August 6, 2002 116 Stat. 1047), Public Law 108-429 (December 3, 2004 118 Stat. 2603), Public Law No: 109-280 (August 17, 2006 120 Stat. 1166), Public Law 110-343 (October 3, 2008 122 Stat. 3875)). Congress again modified the Wool Program in Sections 12315 and 12316 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 ("Farm Bill") (Public Law 113-79 (February 7, 2014 128 Stat. 649)). With each modification Congress extended the time duration of the Wool Program and expanded the benefits available to the wool industry. Clearly, Congress intended to expand promotion of the U.S. wool industry in creating and modifying the Wool Program. The Wool Program comprises five distinct elements:

  1. Payments to Manufacturers of Certain Worsted Wool Fabrics (formerly U.S. Department of Commerce wool grants),

  2. Monetization of the Wool Tariff Rate Quota ("TRQ") for importers of certain worsted wool fabric,

  3. Wool Yarn, Wool Fiber, and Wool Top Duty Compensation Payments (formerly U.S. Customs and Border Protection wool payments),

  4. Refund of Duties Paid on Imports of Certain Wool Products, and

  5. Wool (Sheep) Research and Promotion.

The Rule published March 9, 2015, relates to numbers 1, 2, and 3.

The Wool Program is complex and I applaud the Department for its diligence in drafting this implementing rule to assure that each participating entity will receive the payments it is eligible for in a timely manner, and with the least amount of paper work or other inconvenience. I also applaud the Department for recognizing that indirect importers, as well as direct importers, would have saved money had the duty reductions and suspensions provided for under headings 9902.51.11, 9902.51.13, 9902.51.14, 9902.51.15, and 9902.51.16 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States not expired at the end of 2014 and, therefore, providing for payments to indirect importers as well as to direct importers.

However, I find in the Rule some needs for improvement. Read the rest of Agathon Associates' comments HERE.

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