The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced on Wednesday in a Federal Register notice that it is seeking public comments on the effectiveness of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods. The docket to post comments will open on November 15, 2022 and close on January 17, 2023. USTR welcomes any interested party to submit comments on the effects of the tariffs on the United States economy, including consumers.

In particular, USTR requests comments detailing the effect of these tariffs on U.S. small business, U.S. supply chain resiliency, domestic manufacturing, domestic capital investments, domestic capacity, and whether the actions have resulted in higher additional duties on inputs used for downstream products in domestic manufacturing. In addition to comments submitted on the effect of the tariffs on the U.S. economy, USTR also announced it will consider comments addressing the effectiveness of the actions in obtaining the elimination of China’s practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation. Commenters may also propose other actions or modifications that would be more effective in obtaining the elimination of China’s practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.

This request for public comments is part of a four-year review being conducted by USTR of the initial and modified trade actions undertaken by the Trump administration in the Section 301 investigation of China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation. In May, USTR commenced the statutory four-year review and solicited comments from the domestic industries which benefitted from the trade actions. Following more than 400 comments requesting to keep tariffs in place, USTR announced in September that the tariffs would stay in place as the review continues.

Business groups that believe the tariffs have harmed U.S. consumers and producers relying on inputs sourced from China will now be able to share their experiences of dealing with Section 301 tariffs for the past 4 years. While the USTR already requested comments from domestic industry benefiting from the tariffs over the summer, supporters of the Section 301 tariffs will still have further opportunities to offer their opinions on the effect of the U.S. economy this time around. There are no statutory deadlines for when USTR must come to a final decision of its 4-year review.  

A vocal group of business leaders have been calling for a restart of a robust exclusion process following the expiration of the majority of product exclusions. It remains to be seen whether USTR will continue with blanket tariffs on almost all Chinese goods or switch to a more targeted approach only hitting select industries.