The American Composites Manufacturers Association Calls for Reduced Tariffs in International Trade Commission Testimony

20 October 2015

In a testimony before the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) requested an equal playing field for tariffs on composite products, covered in the Environmental Goods Agreement.

According to ACMA, the current trade system of higher outbound and lower inbound tariffs on composite utility poles and composite pipe provides more opportunities for foreign companies to participate in the US market than it does for American companies to participate in foreign markets.

“Advocating for lower tariffs on composites products allows us to help put our members in a position to become more competitive in the global marketplace,” said ACMA President, Tom Dobbins.

Currently, some ACMA members’ products are classified in two provisions in the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA):

  • Subheading 3917.29, which covers “tubes, pipes, hoses and fittings of other plastics”

  • Subheading 3926.90, which covers “other articles of plastics” ACMA continues to advocate for the Environmental Goods Agreement to include FRP pipes and utility poles.

ACMA’s members have attempted to export composite utility poles to participating EGA member countries, but have been met with high tariffs. By contrast, other countries have much lower tariffs.

Dan Coughlin, Vice President of Composites Market Development at ACMA, testified that for composite pipes and utility poles, the tariff levels of the United States compared to other EGA party countries is decidedly uneven. ACMA’s members believe the economic upside of increasing exports to foreign markets by reducing tariff barriers to access materials will outweigh the downside of providing duty-free treatment for imports of the same products, since those duties are already lower or zero.

“The reduction or elimination of tariffs on products like these will provide new opportunities for exports and grow jobs in the US while simultaneously accomplishing environmental goals on a global basis,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin adds, “The current global demand for utility poles represents a global market of $28 billion. A 5% to 10% substitution of FRP poles into this market has the potential to create from 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs in the US composites industry. From an environmental perspective, composite utility poles avoid soil contamination and the production of hazardous waste from treated wood poles. In addition FRP poles are stronger, more durable, require less maintenance and have overall lower lifecycle costs than utility poles made with more traditional materials.”

The ACMA says that the composites industry value chain contributes over $45 billion to the US economy growing at more than 6.5% annually and employing nearly three quarters of a million people.


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