A recent report from the Congressional Research Service suggests that, as the Biden administration works to conclude a long-awaited review of the additional tariffs currently in place on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, it may be a good idea for Congress to engage with the administration to develop and implement guidelines for when and how to grant and extend exclusions under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The report states that this “could potentially promote transparency, consistency, and proper application of standards in reviewing requests, thereby helping to ensure that the USTR carries out Section 301 objectives as prescribed by Congress.”
The report asserts that in recent years lawmakers have introduced legislation to amend Section 301 and have also considered the possibility of establishing or streamlining an exclusion process during hearings as well as in letters to USTR. Some believe the tariffs should be “recalibrated” to better align them with U.S. economic and strategic priorities, some have advocated for a partial withdrawal of the tariffs to ease costs on U.S. companies and consumers, while others believe the tariffs should be preserved as leverage for future U.S.-China trade negotiations or to promote supply chain resilience and/or domestic manufacturing.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai indicated in a recent letter to the leadership of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party that the ongoing review of the Section 301 tariffs, which she expects will be concluded “in the next few months”, needs to consider ways to make the tariffs “more strategic” while being aware of the incentives created by these tariffs.
Tai noted, for example, that the tariffs “have promoted diversification of supply chains away from China, thereby protecting U.S. firms from forced technology transfer.” At the same time, she added, some Chinese firms have established operations outside China to avoid the tariffs, while “existing rules of origin have left openings for those Chinese firms to benefit from MFN treatment (avoiding Section 301 tariffs) or preferential treatment under free trade agreements”. Tai said the administration will need to work closely with Congress to evaluate and address these challenges, particularly given the openness of the U.S. market to goods from key trading partners and foreign investment.
Meanwhile, interested parties may still submit input through Feb. 21 on whether to further extend particular tariff exclusions beyond May 31. USTR has said it will evaluate such potential extensions based on the availability of covered products from sources outside of China, efforts undertaken to source covered products from the U.S. or third countries, why additional time is needed, and on what timeline, if any, the sourcing of covered products is likely to shift outside of China. USTR will also consider whether or not extending the exclusion will impact U.S. interests, including the goal of obtaining the elimination of China’s acts, policies, and practices covered in the original Section 301 investigation.
Efforts to ameliorate the impact of the China Section 301 tariffs are also continuing.
- ST&R is 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 email@example.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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