On June 23, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on whether extensions for up to 12 months should be granted for particular products that have received exclusions in the China Section 301 process from the 7.5 percent tariffs on imports from China with an annual trade value of $300 billion (List/Tranche 4).   These product exclusions were listed in five Federal Register notices and include in many instances exemptions for certain medical supplies and equipment necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 85 Fed Reg 13970 (March 10, 2020) – see Trump and Trade Update of March 9, 2020
  • 85 Fed Reg 15244 (March 17, 2020) – see Trump and Trade Update of March 15, 2020
  • 85 Fed Reg 17936 (March 31, 2020) – see Trump and Trade Update of March 29, 2020
  • 85 Fed Reg 28693 (May 13, 2020) – see Trump and Trade Update of May 11, 2020
  • 85 Fed Reg 35975 (June 12, 2020) – see Trump and Trade Update of June 9, 2020

At this time, the USTR is not considering product exclusion Federal Register notices issued after June 12, 2020.  All of the exclusions in the listed Federal Register notices are set to expire on September 1, 2020.

The USTR states that it will evaluate the possible extension of each exclusion on a case-by-case basis. The focus of the evaluation will be “whether, despite the first imposition of these additional duties in September 2019, the particular product remains available only from China.” These issues should be addressed in submitting any comments:

  • Whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.
  • Any changes in the global supply chain since August 2018 as to the particular product or any other relevant industry developments.
  • The efforts, if any, the importers or U.S. purchasers have undertaken since September 2019 to source the product from the United States or third countries.

The USTR notes that it will continue to consider whether the imposition of additional duties on the products covered by the exclusion will result in severe economic harm to the commenter or other U.S. interests.

The USTR is seeking public comments from interested parties on whether to extend any particular exclusion for up to 12 months. The period for comment runs from July 1, 2020 until July 30, 2020.  Comments must be submitted on the public docket on USTR’s web portal at https://comments.USTR.gov under Docket No. USTR-2020-0027 – “Request for Comments Concerning the Extension of Particular Exclusions Granted Under the $300 Billion Action Pursuant to Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.”  New users will first have to create an account in order to submit comments.  For parties wishing to include Business Confidential Information (BCI), the USTR notes that such information will not be publicly available when comments are posted on the docket.  Parties may also upload supporting documents that can also be marked as public or BCI.