WASHINGTON — Federal trade officials said they may lower or eliminate tariffs on more than 20 plastic products, mold bases and equipment.
The International Trade Commission is studying the impact of tariff cuts for products including polypropylene and polycarbonate film, PVC tubes, rolls and bottles; PET film and sheet; and generic plastic products like cans and balls.
Those tariff reductions are among hundreds suggested by U.S. companies or foreign governments. ITC is trying to gauge the impact on domestic industry before negotiations begin later this year as part of an expansion of a trade treaty on information technology products.
The first phase of the Information Technology Agreement opened markets in 43 countries for computers, semiconductors, telecommunications and electronic equipment.
The reductions could apply to all uses of the plastic goods, and not just uses in information technology products, if there is no easy way to separate imports bound for information technology from imports aimed at other markets, ITC officials said.
``If this entire list would go to zero, it would be a significant impact for both importers and exporters,'' said Lori Anderson, director of economic and international trade issues for the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. ``If you look at the broad ramifications, your competitors could import this for no duty.''
Tariffs on the plastic items range from 3-6.5 percent.
U.S. trade officials say it is hard to say what goods will be on the list, but said the odds of a tariff being lowered will go up if no one objects.
``It's highly unlikely that all of them will be in the final agreement,'' said Sylvia McDonough, ITC manager of electronic technology.
SPI is asking companies how they would be affected. A list of products on the ITC list can be obtained from SPI's fax-on-demand at (800) 774-4614, ext. 9114.
The list also includes mold bases, registration systems for punching film, encapsulation equipment for assembling printed circuit boards, plastic production rolls, polyester or PC foil, packing material and metalized fluoropolymers.
ITC plans a hearing March 19 in Washington, and will make a recommendation to U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky by May 1.
Her office decides what items the United States will bring up in negotiations on the treaty, which should be implemented by Jan. 1.