Policy and Legal

NAM Pushes for Transparent Conclusion of Tariff Review

The Biden administration is nearing the end of a lengthy review on whether to adjust or extend tariffs on a variety of goods and materials from China—and the NAM is working to make sure manufacturers’ voices are heard.

The background: Following a 2017 investigation into China’s trade practices, the Trump administration put in place a set of levies on imported goods from China—called Section 301 tariffs—intended to incentivize change in practices by China that were found by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to be “unreasonable or discriminatory.”

  • These included policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.

The review: In May 2022, USTR initiated a legally required four-year review of the Section 301 tariffs that focused on tariff efficacy in changing Chinese discriminatory practices and the impact of the tariffs on the U.S. economy, workers and consumers, among other considerations.

  • More than 18 months later, the review remains unfinished. The NAM is urging USTR to finish and publish it—and to take actions that reduce the burdens on manufacturers while maintaining appropriate leverage to incentivize China to adhere to bilateral and multilateral commitments.
  • “Ideally, USTR will conclude the four-year review in the next few weeks and make the results public,” said NAM Senior Director of International Policy Ali Aafedt. “We would like to see the results reflect the 1,498 public submissions USTR received during the process and the reduction or removal of some of the tariffs that are harming manufacturers in the U.S. more than they’re creating leverage on China.”

The exclusions: There are 429 existing exclusions from the tariffs—including 77 COVID-19-related products and 352 reinstated exclusions—which are in effect through May 31.

  • The NAM has also been pushing for a new process that allows manufacturers to ask the government to exclude specific products they need from the tariffs.
  • “The NAM has been calling for a new, fair and transparent Section 301 tariff exclusion process that would allow all U.S. stakeholders an opportunity to seek relief or weigh in on the existing tariffs,” said Aafedt. “The last opportunity to petition USTR for relief from Section 301 tariffs was in 2020, and a new exclusion process will help to better align the tariffs with U.S. economic goals.”

The outlook: Reports such as this one from The Wall Street Journal indicate that the Biden administration will look to rebalance the tariffs, potentially reducing those that are not in the U.S. interest and raising tariffs on other items, including, potentially, on imports from China in the electric vehicle and battery sectors.

  • “The NAM will continue to push for a more strategic approach,” said Aafedt.

If your company has interest in a specific existing exclusion, USTR is seeking feedback here by Feb. 21.

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