Background

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said April 28 that USTR has yet to begin an agency-level review of U.S. trade policy toward China. The news further dampens hopes that the Biden administration will act anytime soon to modify or remove tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods imported from China and reinforces the need for importers to continue to evaluate and implement strategies to mitigate the impact of those tariffs. For more information on such strategies, please contact Mark Segrist (at (312) 279-2834 or via email) or Mark Tallo (at (202) 730-4968 or via email).

According to press reports, Tai told lawmakers at a Senate hearing that USTR’s “top to bottom” review of China trade policy will examine the Section 301 tariffs that the White House has kept in place in what Tai and others have described as an effort to retain leverage in future trade negotiations with China. Tai said she is “looking forward to kicking [the review] off” and acknowledged that “time is of the essence.” She added that potential reinstatement of tariff exclusions and/or an exclusion process will be included in this review.

On the other hand, Tai said USTR is “in the middle of” a review of the Phase 1 trade agreement the U.S. signed with China in early 2020, which featured a number of commitments from Beijing in return for U.S. actions to suspend some tariff increases and roll back others. Tai said USTR is “drilling down … using the usual discipline that we have to look at the overall compliance picture and to examine China’s performance under this agreement and all of its component parts.” While the agreement calls for the two sides to hold semiannual consultations on its implementation, Tai said no such talks have yet been scheduled.

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