Background

A broad coalition of trade community members is seeking an extension of the Section 301 tariff exclusions currently in place for hundreds of goods imported from China. These exclusions are slated to expire Dec. 31, subjecting affected goods to additional tariffs of up to 25 percent. The Trump administration has thus far been unwilling to consider any extension.

The Americans for Free Trade Coalition, which represents importers, exporters, manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, powersports manufacturers, and other supply chain stakeholders, said in a Nov. 5 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that its members continue to call for the full elimination of the Section 301 tariffs. However, the Trump administration has given every indication of maintaining the tariffs, and even presumptive President-elect Biden is expected to keep all or most of them in place for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, the coalition said, product exclusions have helped alleviate the burden of the tariffs for some businesses, and “a predictable, fair, and transparent” exclusion process is needed. However, the pending expiration of the remaining product exclusions is jeopardizing the “modicum of certainty” they have provided, which is particularly important as U.S. businesses continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, the coalition called on USTR to automatically extend existing product exclusions for at least six months. Alternatively, USTR should open a new public comment period on extending expiring exclusions, as well as those not extended earlier this year, as soon as possible.

It is unlikely that the Trump administration will agree to the coalition’s request, meaning the Section 301 tariffs will be levied on currently excluded goods as of Jan. 1. Importers of these goods should consider using the first sale rule to mitigate the impact of this change.

For more information on Section 301 tariffs and exclusions, please contact Nicole Bivens CollinsonMarilyn-Joy Cerny, or Kristen Smith. For more information on the first sale rule, including ST&R’s proprietary First Sale Portal that can aid importers in substantiating claims, please contact Mark Segrist or Mark Tallo.

Click here to register for ST&R’s Nov. 12 webinar on mitigating Section 301 tariffs by using foreign-trade zones and bonded warehouses.

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