On May 5, 2022, the Office of the US Trade Representative (“USTR”) published a Federal Register notice initiating its four-year review of Section 301 tariffs imposed on Chinese-origin goods in 2018.1 The notice is the first step of a multi-phase process that will determine the fate of the Section 301 duties that have been imposed on a wide range of Chinese products since 2018.
Background on 301 Duties
After a 2017 investigation, USTR imposed additional duties under Section 301 of the Trade Act on various goods of Chinese origin. USTR identified the goods subject to the additional duties by harmonized tariff schedule (“HTS”) numbers on four lists. The first two lists, List 1 and List 2, entered into effect on July 6, 2018 and August 23, 2018, respectively.2 Following these two lists, USTR issued two other lists, List 3 and List 4A.3
Requests for Continuation
Section 307 of the Trade Act states that, if USTR has taken action under Section 301, and neither the petitioner nor a representative of domestic industry that benefits from the 301 tariffs submits a written request for continuation of the action within the last 60 days of the four-year period for which the 301 tariffs are eligible, the tariffs will expire.
Because List 1 entered into effect on July 6, 2018, that List is currently in its final 60-day window. As a result, USTR established two comment windows for representatives of domestic industry to submit written requests for continuation in its Federal Register notice: one for List 1 that runs between May 7, 2022, and July 5, 2022, and another for List 2 that runs between June 24, 2022, and August 22, 2022.4 Regarding Lists 3 and 4A, the Federal Register notice states these lists are modifications “applicable to both the July 6, 2018, action [List 1] and August 23, 2018, action [List 2].”5 This language does not clarify whether representatives of domestic industry for products on Lists 3 and 4A will have the opportunity to request continuation in the window for List 1 or List 2.
The Federal Register notice indicates that USTR will issue subsequent Federal Register notices on whether it has received a request for continuation.6 If it receives a request, USTR will open a review of the provision as required by Section 307(c)(3), and USTR intends to open a separate comment platform for “interested persons” to comment on, among other items, “the effectiveness of the action in achieving the objectives of Section 301, other actions that could be taken, and the effects of such actions on the United States economy, including consumers.”7 Upon completion of this review, USTR will make a decision as to whether the 301 tariffs will continue.
It is highly likely that USTR will receive requests for continuation. Both the request for continuation and subsequent review will give the public a chance to comment and potentially influence the future of the Section 301 duties on Chinese products.