Note: For more information on this topic, please see our client update of April 23rd.

On April 17, 2024, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) initiated an investigation targeting the acts, policies, and practices of the maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sectors of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This action results from a March 12, 202 petition filed by five U.S. labor unions under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 requesting such an investigation. See Thompson Hine Update of March 13, 2014 for more details on the scope of the petition. Section 301 allows the United States to respond to unreasonable or discriminatory foreign government practices that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. 

In determining to initiate an investigation, Ambassador Katherine Tai stated, “The petition presents serious and concerning allegations of the PRC’s longstanding efforts to dominate the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors, cataloguing the PRC’s use of unfair, non-market policies and practices to achieve those goals. The allegations reflect what we have already seen across other sectors, where the PRC utilizes a wide range of non-market policies and practices to undermine fair competition and dominate the market, both in China and globally.” In accordance with Section 301, USTR will request consultations with the Chinese government, accept public comments, and hold a public hearing on the matter.

Interested parties may submit written comments on any issue covered by the investigation, such as:

  • China’s acts, policies, and practices targeting the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors for dominance, and whether they are unreasonable and discriminatory;
  • China’s efforts to dominate the global maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors, including the upstream and downstream supply chain, as well as shipping services;
  • Information on other acts, policies, and practices of China relating to the maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sectors, including political guidance, directives, and control within state and private enterprises, activities of state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, market access and investment restrictions, opaque regulatory preferences and discrimination, wage-suppressing labor practices, state support of industry (including government guidance funds), and forced technology transfer (including state-sponsored cyber theft of intellectual property), or other means employed by China to achieve its goals, which might be included in this investigation, or be addressed through other applicable mechanisms; and
  • Whether China’s acts, policies, and practices burden or restrict U.S. commerce, and if so, the nature and level of the burden or restriction.

Any comments must be received no later than May 22, 2024, and submitted on USTR’s electronic portal at under Docket No. USTR-2024-0005, “Request for Comments on the Section 301 Investigation of China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Targeting the Maritime, Logistics, and Shipbuilding Sectors for Dominance.” A public hearing will be held on May 29, 2024, beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. Persons wishing to appear at the hearing must notify USTR no later than May 22, 2024. For additional details on the request for public comments and procedures for the public hearing, see USTR’s Notice.