On November 1st, the US Trade Representative (USTR) posted a questionnaire for its four-year review investigation into Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports.

For the first time under the Biden Administration, USTR is taking material action on tariff policies that have been in place since 2018 under the Trump Administration by seeking official public comments. The USTR is accepting public comments through an open portal between November 15, 2022 through January 17, 2023. The questionnaire asks the public to comment on the efficacy of the tariffs, as well as their impacts on the US economy, consumers, supply chain resilience, domestic manufacturing, and technological innovation.

The USTR also seeks input on other actions it should take to remedy China’s anti-competitive behavior. While this is a critical update from the Biden Administration, USTR has not specified a date by which it will conclude its review or implement any resulting modifications to the Section 301 actions.

Chance to Influence Future Tariff Actions
This open comment period offers an important opportunity for ACMA members to weigh in on more than $300 billion worth of tariffs on imports from China and argue for modifications to Section 301 actions. The announcement comes at a pivotal moment in US-China relations as tensions are particularly high around issues of forced labor in China, threats to Taiwan, and nuclear capabilities.

While USTR continues to use tariffs as leverage against China’s unfair trade practices, forced labor practices, and geopolitical aggression, it also acknowledges that not all tariffs offer the same strategic leverage over China and many tariffs cause significant economic harm for US companies and consumers.

With midterm elections around the corner and Republicans expected to gain control of the House and the Senate remaining a tossup, a Republican controlled House would likely take a hard line on China and focus on related issues in a new Select Committee on China.

Sets Up Likely Policy Clash
Additionally, a Republican controlled House would probably clash with the Biden Administration on policy priorities, namely those that are climate related, which will create gridlock. The friction has already started. Just this week, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden calling for the resignation of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus for his unwillingness to address the border crisis.

Considering all of the above political dynamics, the process of seeking modifications to the Section 301 tariffs is likely to be highly competitive. It is critically important for ACMA members and others impacted to engage in this public comment period to make their case to USTR for tariff relief. For more information on how to navigate tariff relief, do not hesitate to reach out to Lynn Noble, Vice President, Industry Affairs (lnoble@catalogmailers.org).

This member exclusive update has been provided in consultation with our Washington, DC-based government affairs and global business advisory firm, The Vogel Group – www.vogelgroupdc.com

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