Recent Trade & Tariff Perspectives

May 18, 2022  |  Anahi Czeszewski  Product Development Manager

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U.S. Trade Representative to Review All Section 301 Tranches: What You Should Know

According to a recent announcement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), a statutory review has been initiated leading up to the four-year anniversary of the Section 301 China tariff actions. The USTR is currently accepting requests for continuation until July 6, 2022, as part of the first action of this investigation. Find out what this could mean for your total landed cost.

Background: Section 301 China duties

Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, USTR can suspend trade agreement concessions or impose import restrictions if it determines a U.S. trading partner is violating trade agreement commitments or engaging in discriminatory or unreasonable practices that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. Under the Trump administration, Section 301 actions were imposed on Chinese goods as follows:

  • Tranche 1: Implemented July 6, 2018, covering approximately $34 billion worth of Chinese imports
  • Tranche 2: Implemented August 23, 2018, covering approximately $16 billion worth of Chinese imports
  • Tranche 3: Implemented September 24, 2018, covering approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports
  • Tranche 4: Implemented September 1, 2019, covering approximately $120 billion worth of Chinese imports

Review process will continue, modify, or end Section 301 China tariffs

As stated in a recent Federal Register notice, the USTR will soon begin its statutory four-year review of the first two Section 301 China tariff actions, under tranche one and tranche two. As a secondary means of communication, the USTR will mail notices to all parties that had previously submitted comments on the Section 301 additional tariffs, which includes 600 stakeholders, according to a senior USTR official.

The first two Section 301 China tariff actions will terminate on their respective four-year anniversary dates (i.e., July 6, 2022, and August 23, 2022, respectively) unless a representative of a domestic industry that benefits from the respective action submits a request for continuation in the 60-day period prior to the four-year anniversary.

How do I submit a request for continuation?

Representatives of domestic industries are invited to submit their requests for continuation using USTR’s comment portal. For tranche one, requests for continuation are currently being accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 5, 2022. The comment portal will reopen on June 24, 2022, for tranche two requests, closing at 11:59 p.m. on August 22, 2022, for that tranche.

Furthermore, as stated within the Federal Register notice:

  • Representatives of a domestic industry that benefits from either of the two actions under Section 301, as modified, may submit a request for continuation of an action through the USTR portal.
  • Representatives of a domestic industry that benefits from both trade actions under Section 301, as modified, may submit two separate requests for continuation within the two respective 60-day time periods.

What to expect during USTR’s second phase review

Upon the closing of each comment period, the USTR will announce in subsequent notices whether it has received a request for continuation from a representative of a domestic industry benefiting from the tariff action. If USTR receives a request, it will announce the continuation of the associated Section 301 tariff action as it undertakes a formal review.

What will USTR review?

As described in the statute, a review should cover “the effectiveness in achieving the objectives” of the Section 301 tariff actions. Additionally, other considerations in this review relate to “the effects of such actions on the United States economy, including consumers.” Thus, if the USTR receives requests for continuation, it will need to consider these criteria to make its determination.

USTR, Katherine Tai, and Deputy National Security Advisor, Daleep Singh, add comments

United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, recently commented that tariff cuts were “one tool” the administration may use to combat inflation. Furthermore, during an interview with Deputy National Security Adviser, Daleep Singh, comments were made regarding the possibility to “reframe” the Section 301 additional duties and to “think carefully about products that have a genuine national security nexus.”

Uncover your potential duty minimization opportunities

Use C.H. Robinson’s U.S. tariff search tool to identify potential duty minimization opportunities and to understand the impact on your business if additional tariffs are terminated by the USTR. The tool uses 10-digit tariff classification codes, as queried directly from both the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) and all duty exclusion notices published by USTR, so you can save hours of research time and gain clarity in an extraordinarily complex environment.

Take control of your total landed cost and be proactive in today’s ever-evolving trade climate. Not sure how to use the search tool? Learn how to get started with the U.S. tariff search tool in under one minute.

Are there any other duty recovery or minimization opportunities out there?

Under the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), there may be additional opportunities to collect refunds on Section 301 China duties you previously paid to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

According to the bill, all previously expired duty exclusions would be reinstated from the date of passage of the legislation through December 2022.

The USICA and the America COMPETES Act—the U.S. House of Representatives’ response to the Senate’s USICA—are both under deliberation, and lawmakers will go to conference with the aim to reach a compromise on the differences between the bills before a final bill can go to President Biden’s desk for signing. Notably, the America COMPETES Act does not contain any provisions to reinstate previous duty exclusions to the Section 301 China duties.

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Our information is compiled from a number of sources that to the best of our knowledge are accurate and correct. It is always the intent of our company to present accurate information. C.H. Robinson accepts no liability or responsibility for the information published herein.

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