The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has closed the public comment period on whether to take further action in the form of an additional 10 or 25 percent tariff on certain products imported into the United States from China with an annual trade value of approximately $200 billion. Nearly 6,000 comments were received during the comment period, which focused on the third list (or tranche) of over 6,000 Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) subheadings proposed by the USTR on July 17, 2018 (see annex to 83 Federal Register 33608). This followed a marathon six-day public hearing featuring a parade of witnesses who mostly complained of the injury their U.S. companies would face if these tariffs were implemented. Highlighting this concern, more than 150 U.S. trade groups filed a joint letter opposing the proposed tariffs and arguing that, if implemented, such tariffs and the continuing “tit-for-tat tariff escalation with China only serves to expand the harm to more U.S. economic interests, including farmers, families, businesses, and workers.” The letter states that any tariffs will serve to only invite additional Chinese retaliation and “cause significant supply chain disruptions” since the assumptions that U.S. companies “can simply move their production out of China are incorrect.”

Despite the outcry that U.S. companies, manufacturers, service providers and consumers will bear the brunt of any new proposed tariffs, President Trump on Friday, September 7, 2018, in remarks to reporters, stated that “the $200 billion we are talking about could take place very soon” and that his administration is prepared to seek tariffs on another $267 billion on Chinese goods “if I want.”