Background

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has launched Section 301 investigations into Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to (1) the importation and use of illegal timber and (2) currency valuation. These investigations could result in tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions on imports from Vietnam if consultations do not yield a successful resolution.

Importers of wood products from Vietnam in particular could be affected by any such restrictions. These and other importers now have until Nov. 12 to submit comments on the issues being examined in these investigations. For assistance preparing and submitting comments, or additional information on the potential impact of these investigations, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson or Kristen Smith.

With respect to the currency investigation, USTR states that available analysis indicates that Vietnam’s currency has been undervalued for the past three years and that the government has actively intervened in the exchange market.

USTR is therefore seeking comment on issues such as whether Vietnam’s currency is in fact undervalued (and, if so, by how much); the extent to which Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices contribute to the undervaluation; and the nature and level of any burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by the undervaluation.

With respect to the timber investigation, USTR states that available evidence suggests that a significant portion of the timber Vietnam imports has been harvested or traded in violation of Vietnam’s domestic laws, the laws of exporting countries, or international rules. USTR notes that Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of wood products, with more than $3.7 billion worth of wood furniture shipped to the U.S. in 2019, and that it relies on imports of timber harvested in other countries to supply inputs for those products.

Comments are being sought on issues such as the extent to which illegal timber is imported into Vietnam, the extent to which products of Vietnam made from illegal timber (including wooden furniture) are imported into the U.S., and the nature and level of any burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by Vietnam’s import and use of illegal timber.

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