On May 28, 2024, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) posted in the Federal Register a request for comments regarding its proposed modifications to certain tariffs related to the Section 301 investigation of China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation that was initiated in 2018 and resulted in a recently released statutorily mandated four-year review report. For additional details on this report, see Thompson Hine Update of May 15, 2024. The proposed modifications, directed by President Joe Biden, will either add or increase Section 301 duties on certain imported Chinese products in strategic sectors. Also included in the notice are proposed subheadings eligible for an exclusion process by which interested persons may request that particular machinery used in domestic manufacturing be temporarily excluded from this tariff and a proposal to grant 19 temporary exclusions for certain solar manufacturing equipment.

Annex A to the USTR’s request for comments proposes 382 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings and five statistical reporting numbers of the HTSUS for the Section 301 tariff. The products include: (i) batteries; (ii) electric vehicles; (iii) medical gloves, facemasks and other medical items; (iv) critical minerals; (v) semiconductors; (vi) cranes; (vii) solar cells; and (viii) steel and aluminum products. The USTR proposes that increases for these products take effect on August 1, 2024, January 1, 2025, and January 1, 2026, as noted in this Annex. 

The USTR is establishing an exclusion process by which interested persons may request that particular machinery used in domestic manufacturing and classified within certain subheadings under Chapter 84 (nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof) and Chapter 85 (electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles) of the HTSUS be temporarily excluded from the Section 301 tariff. The HTSUS subheadings eligible for consideration of this temporary exclusion are set forth in Annex B of the USTR’s request for comments. Procedures for requesting exclusions under this process will be published in a separate notice; and exclusions granted through this process will be effective through May 31, 2025.

At the direction of President Biden, the USTR is also proposing 19 temporary exclusions for solar manufacturing equipment that fall under the HTSUS four-digit subheading 8486. The proposed temporary exclusions are set forth in Annex C to the request for comments. These proposed exclusions will be effective May 28, 2024 through May 31, 2025.

Request for Comments

As to USTR’s proposed modification for adding or increasing Section 301 duties on certain imported Chinese products listed in Annex A, interested persons are invited to comment on:

  • The effectiveness of the proposed modification in obtaining the elimination of or in counteracting China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.
  • The effects of the proposed modification on the U.S. economy, including consumers.
  • The scope of the product description to cover ship-to-shore cranes under subheading 8426.19.00 (Transporter cranes, gantry cranes and bridge cranes).
  • For facemasks, medical gloves, and syringes and needles, whether the tariff rates should be higher than the proposed rates.
  • For facemasks, whether additional statistical reporting codes under tariff subheading 6307.90.98 should be included.
  • Whether the tariff subheadings identified for each product and sector adequately cover the products and sectors included in the President’s direction to the USTR.

For the exclusion process, the USTR seeks comments on whether the subheadings listed in Annex B should or should not be eligible for consideration in the machinery exclusion process and whether Annex B omits certain subheadings under Chapters 84 and 85 that cover machinery used in domestic manufacturing and should be included.

Finally, for the proposed solar manufacturing machinery exclusions in Annex C, the USTR requests comments on the scope of each exclusion, including any suggested amendments to the product description. The USTR web portal and public docket (Docket No. USTR–2024–0007) at https://comments.ustr.gov will open for interested persons to submit comments on May 29, 2024, and close on June 28, 2024. All public comments must be submitted via this online portal.