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NAM: Manufacturers Need a Better Section 301 Exclusion Process

To thrive, create jobs and produce the essential goods the U.S. and our trading partners use every day, the manufacturing sector needs a fair, transparent Section 301 tariff exclusion process, the NAM said Tuesday.

  • However, the tariff increases announced this week by the Biden administration could make it much more difficult for manufacturers to produce those critical items.

What’s going on: As part of the U.S. Trade Representative Office’s final Section 301 tariffs review—which the NAM had long urged the office to complete—President Biden said his administration plans to raise “tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to roughly 100% … increas[e] a key tariff rate on steel and aluminum products to 25% from 7.5%,” raise the solar-cell tariff to 50% from 25% and create a new 25% duty on shipping cranes, according to Reuters (subscription).

  • Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the U.S. to act against foreign trade practices it believes violate agreements. The NAM has been pushing for a finalized report with a fair, transparent Section 301 tariff exclusion process that will both reduce the burden on manufacturers and keep pressure on China to adhere to fair practices.
  • The process would allow manufacturers to ask for tariff exclusions for specific products they need.
  • “The NAM has long advocated for a full global strategy and a rules-based trading system that benefit manufacturers and workers by opening new markets with our allies,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said.

Why it’s important: Far from freeing the U.S. of “unacceptable risks” stemming from unfair Chinese trade practices, in the absence of a new exclusion process, these tariff increases could limit the ability of manufacturers in the U.S. to obtain needed supplies for goods production.

  • This, in turn, could jeopardize U.S. jobs and competitiveness.
  • “Manufacturers are concerned about the potential impact this broad swath of tariffs could have on our ability to produce the essential products needed to drive our economy forward, especially if critical inputs become less available and more costly,” said Timmons.

The background: The USTR is legally required to review Section 301 tariffs four years after they are initiated. This most recent review—started in May 2022—is overdue.

  • The exclusion process the NAM has long requested allows manufacturers to ask for tariff exclusions for specific products they need.

What should be done: “Manufacturers urge the administration to negotiate new trade agreements with allies and partners around the world and create a new, comprehensive and transparent 301 exclusion process to ensure that manufacturing in America is not being disadvantaged by our own government,” Timmons concluded.

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