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May 9, 2022

United States Opens Comment Period On Potential End To China Tariffs

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has issued a Federal Register notice to initiate the first step of a statutory review process to determine whether Section 301 tariffs imposed on products from China by the Trump administration. The notice is here.

Click here to review the products to which these penalties apply.

In comments last week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the review process would be “robust” and has been designed to collect a wide range of comments from industry stakeholders and to assess potential economic impacts. According to Reuters, Ambassador Tai promised to “focus on how important this process is and how important it is for us to hear from all of our stakeholders across the economy.”

The process that USTR outlines includes different comment periods and comment period deadlines and phases for the USTR to review and decide whether and which tariffs should be extended. Specifically, USTR will collect industry comments on the first batch of Chinese industrial imports valued at $34 billion at the time from May 7 until July 5, 2022 and on a second batch covering $16 billion in imports from June 24 to August 22, 2022.

As this article in The National Law Review explains, “Under Section 301, the president has the authority to impose tariffs on imports to counter trade practices that the U.S. Trade Representative finds either to violate or conflict with a trade agreement or to burden or restrict U.S. commerce unjustifiably.”

The article also notes the current review process “may result in significant changes to the Section 301 tariffs on a wide range of products from China” and advised “importers and others affected by these tariffs are urged to consider filing written comments.”

How is this process likely to play out? It is anyone’s guess. According to The Wall Street Journal, even officials in the Biden administration are divided on whether the United States should ease tariffs on Chinese goods, particularly as a way to lower inflation. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo are in favor of softening the duties, but Ambassador Tai and others see the tariffs as a way to influence China.

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