Background

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said this week that changes to the Section 301 tariffs on imports from China are a possibility as part of a broader effort to combat rising inflation in the U.S. Such changes could be made following a review of the tariffs that USTR will launch in the coming days.

At a May 2 event in California, Tai said “all tools are on the table,” including tariffs, when considering how to address rising prices. Tai has been resistant to the idea of lowering the China tariffs, which she has said give the U.S. leverage in negotiations on trade irritants with Beijing. Senior Biden administration officials have started raising the idea more frequently in recent weeks, though, and Tai’s comments could signal a softening of her position. However, she stressed in her comments the need to ensure that “whatever we do right now [regarding the tariffs] … doesn’t undermine the medium-term design and strategy that we know we need to pursue” with respect to U.S.-China trade relations.

The following day USTR announced its long-awaited review of the Section 301 tariffs on List 1 and 2 goods from China, which are currently scheduled to expire July 6 and Aug. 23, respectively. Requests to continue these tariffs may be submitted by representatives of domestic industries that benefit from them (1) between May 7 and July 5 for List 1 goods and (2) between June 24 and Aug. 22 for List 2 goods. USTR said it will also consider the tariffs on List 3 and List 4A goods “as applicable” to the List 1 and List 2 actions but gave no further details.

If USTR receives a continuation request it will announce that fact and continue the tariffs. USTR will then undertake a separate review in which it will accept comments from all interested persons on issues such as the effectiveness of the tariffs in achieving the objectives of Section 301, other actions that could be taken, and the effects of the tariffs on the U.S. economy, including consumers.

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 is 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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