20 May 2019
Proposal to Expand Section 301 Tariffs on Mainland Chinese Products Includes Previously Dropped Items
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on 13 May issued a notice that formally proposes to establish an additional duty of up to 25 percent under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 on nearly all remaining imports from mainland China, which are valued at approximately US$300 billion. The so-called List 4 includes apparel, footwear, manufactured textiles and many other consumer products, but excludes certain pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical inputs, select medical goods, rare earth materials and critical minerals. While product exclusions granted by USTR on prior tranches via company-specific exclusion requests will not be affected by the proposed action, certain products that had been dropped from previous lists following public comment have been added to the proposed List 4.
Former USTR official Ed Brzytwa, now director of international trade at the American Chemistry Council, said that “it appears that a number of products taken off list 3 got added into list 4.” He observed that “in a sense, they were likely running out of imports to target so, to a certain extent, they probably had to add the products that were previously excluded.” Brzytwa nonetheless complained that “this is not helpful for the long-term success and growth in the chemical sector.”
A semiconductor industry expert said that certain chemicals and flat-panel displays that had been removed from the previous lists have reappeared on the newest list. Other experts noted that safety equipment such as bike helmets and car seats that had been dropped from List 3 are on draft List 4. Moreover, several Washington-based attorneys who had had products removed from prior lists on behalf of clients have noticed those previously dropped products’ reappearance on List 4 as well.
Parties wishing to submit input on the proposed List 4 must do so by 17 June. USTR will hold a public hearing on 17 June, with requests to appear at the hearing and a summary of expected testimony due by 10 June. Post-hearing rebuttal comments are due within seven days after the last day of the public hearing.