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As part of the Congressionally mandated four-year review process, U.S. manufacturers have the opportunity to submit comments on the effectiveness of tariffs impacting approximately $370 billion worth of Chinese imports. The comment period is an opportunity for manufacturers to let the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) know how Chinese imports impact their businesses and to request duties be placed on additional imports from China.

What Are the Section 301 Duties?

In 2018 and 2019, the Trump administration placed 25% duties (301 duties) on approximately $370 billion worth of Chinese imports. These duties remain in place today and are reviewed every four years as required by the Trade Act of 1974. Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows USTR to enforce U.S. rights under trade agreements and address unfair foreign barriers to U.S. exports. Section 301 also authorizes USTR to take various actions, including increased tariffs on goods imported into the U.S. from the country under investigation. The Trump administration conducted a Section 301 investigation into China’s economic practices and imposed tariffs on Chinese goods imported into the U.S. market for (1) forced technology transfer requirements; (2) cyber-enabled actions to acquire U.S. IP and trade secrets illegally; (3) discriminatory and nonmarket licensing practices; and (4) state-funded strategic acquisition of U.S. assets.

U.S. Trade Representative’s Request for Comments

On September 8, 2022, USTR announced that Section 301 tariffs would remain in effect against China. USTR is now requesting comments on the effectiveness of those tariffs. Notably, USTR is also providing U.S. manufacturers the opportunity to request that Section 301 tariffs be applied to new product lines. The opportunity for U.S. manufacturers that may have been injured by Chinese competitors to file comments expires on January 17, 2023.

Opportunities for Small to Medium-Sized Industries

Historically antidumping cases were predominantly brought by U.S. steel industries, and to a lesser degree from the chemical industry. More recently we are seeing imports start to move up the value-added ladder to include downstream products – everything from finished steel products, diamond sawblades, plastic ribbons and various types of master alloys. The USTR’s request for comments presents smaller and medium-sized industries an opportunity to respond and potentially get access to meaningful relief that protects them – both their production operations, their profitability and their workers.

U.S. trade remedy laws are one of the only available tools to reestablish an even playing field for American companies and avoid lost sales and profits. Our eBook, Protecting Domestic Producers: A Guide to Antidumping and Countervailing Investigations, shares details on how diverse domestic industries can take advantage of these laws – antidumping and countervailing duty investigations – to combat unfair foreign competition and receive adequate remedies and protections.

Buchanan has a team of international trade and national security attorneys ready to help U.S. manufacturers who are concerned about competition from Chinese imports – either with comments on Section 301 tariffs or otherwise.