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Congress Weighs in on China Tariff Exclusions

By NAM News Room

A bipartisan group of members of Congress—including a majority of the members on the key committee handling trade in the House of Representatives—is pressing the Biden administration to revisit its approach to tariffs on China.

The background: In October, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that she would consider renewing tariff exclusions granted by the Trump administration on around 550 Chinese products. That number signified an extremely small amount of the Chinese products that U.S. manufacturers use, causing significant challenges for manufacturers across the country that require additional exclusions.

The action: Yesterday, 141 members of Congress signed onto a letter delivered to Ambassador Tai that presses the administration to move faster, expand eligibility for the exclusions process and increase retroactivity of granted exclusions. Those numbers included a majority of the Democratic members and every single Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction on trade issues. Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) led the effort.

Why it matters: Manufacturers support tough and effective action to address China’s unfair trade practices, but as industries grapple with fluctuating supply chains, the economic fallout of COVID-19 and increasing global competition, they need to make sure they can remain competitive and have opportunities to seek targeted tariff relief.

What they’re saying: “China must be held accountable for commitments it has made to the United States and for its state-centered and non-market trade policies that have harmed American workers and the rules-based international trading system,” the signatories said. “The lapse—and continued absence—of critical exclusions have deepened the challenges for businesses and their workers.… We strongly urge the USTR to expand its exclusion process as quickly as possible to give American workers, businesses and families badly needed economic relief.” The signatories also said that “to ensure that this relief is meaningful, we urge USTR to broaden the scope of the exclusion process to include all products covered under Section 301 tariffs and to ensure meaningful retroactivity to make businesses whole and keep them competitive.”

What we’re saying: “This bipartisan display of congressional leadership is a significant step forward,” said NAM Director of International Business Policy Ryan Ong. “Manufacturers need to see a robust approach to China that holds it accountable for its trade commitments and for additional problematic economic behaviors. It is critical that USTR accelerate efforts to address these issues, while also broadening meaningful opportunities for manufacturers to have a voice on Section 301 tariff matters to strengthen manufacturing competitiveness here in the United States.”

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