What You Need to Know About Recent Actions on Trade Tariffs

By: Alice Ancona

 

List of Proposed Exports for Increased Tariffs    Federal Program Survey

 

The past few weeks have produced a flurry of trade actions – both proposed and implemented – on China’s imports to the U.S. and U.S. exports to China.

The Florida Chamber’s International Trade & Investment Office has summarized recent actions and outlined steps you can take in response to proposed tariffs. Below is a timeline of events:

March 8

On March 8, through presidential proclamation, the U.S. imposed new tariffs on 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum, effective March 23, 2018.  The White House additionally issued a formal notice that steel and aluminum imports from Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and the 28-member states of the European Union, would be excluded from tariffs for the time being. These countries join Canada and Mexico, whose exclusions were noted in the original proclamation.

The White House notice further notes that, for these countries, the tariffs “are suspended until May 1, 2018, pending discussions of satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to U.S. national security.

Our sources suggest that steel and aluminum imports from the excluded countries will likely be subject to quota system, roughly equivalent to last year’s volume of imports.

April 2

Effective April 2, 2018, the Chinese government, in response to U.S. action on steel and aluminum tariffs, announced that they are increasing the tariff rate on various imported U.S. products, including pork, by 25 percent. It’s also imposing a new 15 percent tariff on 120 imported U.S. commodities. NOTE that this is not a proposed list but an actual list of U.S. export to China which are currently subject to increased tariffs.

The Chinese tariff increase will impact approximately $3 billion of U.S. exports to China.  The tariffs are as follows:

15 Percent Tariff On:

  • Nuts – including coconuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, pistachios, and macadamia nuts
  • Fresh or dried fruits, – including plantains, bananas, dates, figs, pineapples, avocadoes, guavas, mangoes, oranges, mandarins, clementines, grapefruit, lemons, grapes, watermelons, papayas, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, kiwi, durian, persimmons, lychee, longan, rambutan, dragon fruit, and apricots
  • Grape Wine – including denatured ethyl alcohol
  • Ginseng roots
  • Seamless tubes, pipes, and hollow profiles of iron or steel

25 Percent Tariff On:

  • Aluminum waste and scrap and
  • Meat and edible meat offal of swine

April 3

The Trump Administration published a list of $50 billion worth of imports from China to impose with a 25 percent tariff.  The list specifically targets manufacturing sectors which the Chinese government seeks to strengthen through its “Made in China 2025” initiative. This action is the Administration’s response to China’s unfair practices which pressure U.S. companies to transfer technology and intellectual property to Chinese companies.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the list was refined to minimize “disruptions to the U.S. economy.”

See How Do You Submit Your Comments to USTR? to find out how to submit comments to the Trump Administration on these proposed actions.

April 4

In response to U.S. intended action on Chinese imports referenced above, the Chinese government issued a list of 106 U.S. exports (see full list below) valued at $50 billion for possible new tariffs.  The date by when these tariffs go into effect is yet to be announced.  Tariffs target U.S. exports of aircrafts, automobiles, soybeans beef and chemicals.

April 5

President Trump issued a statement saying that he had “instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs.” This additional action is in response to “China’s unfair retaliation” to previous measures imposed on by the Administration.

How Do You Submit Your Comments to USTR?

With the publication of this list, the Trump Administration kicks off a public comment period ending on May 22nd. The USTR has not yet stated when they would make a decision on the final tariff list.

For companies wishing to submit a comment, carefully review the submission schedule and follow the guidelines outlined below.  You have a small window to submit comments. The USTR will hold a public hearing on May 15 regarding a proposed determination on appropriate action on these imported products. Please see the USTR notice for more details.

  • April 23, 2018: Due date for filing requests to appear and a summary of expected testimony at the public hearing and for filing pre-hearing submissions.
  • May 11, 2018: Due date for submission of written comments.
  • May 15, 2018: The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW Washington DC 20436 beginning at 10:00 am.
  • May 22, 2018: Due date for submission of post-hearing rebuttal comments.

USTR strongly prefers electronic submissions made through the Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.  It is important that you follow the instructions for submitting comments outlined in USTR noticeFor alternatives to on-line submissions, please contact Sandy McKinzy at (202) 395-9483.

Exclusion Request Process for U.S. Companies

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently issued a Federal Register notice on the process U.S. companies may follow to request that specific steel or aluminum products be excluded from the Sec. 232 tariffs, applied on March 23.

Per a press release from the U.S. Department of Commerce:

Only individuals or organizations using steel or aluminum articles identified in Presidential Proclamations 9704  and 9705 and engaged in business activities in the United States may submit exclusion requests.  Exclusion requests will be posted for a 30-day comment period on www.regulations.gov

Separate exclusion requests must be submitted for each unique steel or aluminum product import. For an exclusion request to be considered, the requester must provide a full factual description of the specific product, its properties, and its quantity.”

Copies of the forms and additional information on the exclusion process will be available here and here.

For questions concerning the exclusion process, contact steel232@bis.doc.gov or 202-482-5642 for steel-related queries and aluminum232@bis.doc.gov or 202-482-4757 for aluminum-related queries.

 

The Florida Chamber Wants to Hear from You

As a long-standing advocate of free-trade, the Florida Chamber will continue to support expanding international trade and investment opportunities for Florida businesses, advocating for fair and equitable market access for Florida-origin exports abroad, and eliminating barriers that are harmful to Florida’s competitiveness as a global hub for trade.

Members of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in May 2018, to meet with members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation and federal agencies to urge support of Florida’s job creators.

Your input matters and we would like to hear from you before this important event. To make sure your voice is heard, please take a moment to provide us with your input by taking our brief survey.

For more information on how to join our efforts, please contact Alice Ancona at aancona@flchamber.com.