Background

A Biden administration official raised the prospect this week of eliminating Section 301 tariffs on a wide range of imports from China. The official’s comments came as the White House considers what to do with the tariffs, which are currently scheduled to expire in stages starting later this year.

According to press sources, Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh said April 21 that the U.S. has an opportunity to recalibrate the Section 301 tariffs so that they advance “real strategic priorities.” This could mean limiting the tariffs to goods connected to foundational technologies, national security, or critical supply chains.

“For product categories that are not implicated by those objectives, there’s really not much of a case for those tariffs being in place,” Singh added. “Why do we have tariffs on bicycles or apparel or underwear? There are a whole host of goods – think of Lists 3 or 4A – where it’s not obvious to me at least what strategic purpose they’re serving.”

Prospects for at least some sort of easing of the tariffs appear to be improving. Under applicable law the tariffs are automatically eliminated after four years unless an affected domestic industry requests their extension, and the deadlines for List 1 and List 2 goods are set for this summer. There appears to be growing support for changes within both the administration and Congress, with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai saying recently that the U.S. needs to “turn the page on the old playbook with China” and a bipartisan group of more than 100 lawmakers urging USTR to reinstate a broad Section 301 tariff exclusion process. And Singh reportedly said that political and economic circumstances within both the U.S. and China could make the two sides more amenable to bringing their tariffs down.

In the meantime, efforts to ameliorate the impact of the tariffs are continuing.

- ST&R is assembling a coalition of companies to push USTR to extend its recent reinstatement of 352 tariff exclusions back to Jan. 1, 2021, when the exclusions originally expired, rather than to just Oct. 12, 2021, as is currently the case (for more information on joining this effort, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email).

- ST&R also advocating for the renewal of all previously approved exclusions and the creation of a process allowing for new exclusion requests (for more information, please contact strdc@strtrade.com).

- There are a number of proven and legitimate ways to effectively avoid the tariffs or limit their impact (click here for more information).

- Importers of List 3 and 4A goods from China can still preserve their rights to possible refunds of tariffs paid on such goods by joining an ongoing court case (for more information, or assistance filing a claim, please contact us at 301Litigation@strtrade.com).

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