On Tuesday (Nov. 1, 2022), the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) released a preview of its questionnaire seeking comments on the effectiveness and impacts of the additional duties levied on Chinese-origin goods enacted under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (“Section 301 tariffs”).  The Section 301 tariffs, which commenced in 2018 and have undergone various additions and exclusions in the years since, were the result of the USTR’s investigation and findings of unfair and discriminatory trade practices by China.  This new comment period is part of the USTR’s ongoing statutorily-required four-year review of the Section 301 tariffs.  

Importers and other interested parties should treat this new comment period as a key opportunity to communicate directly with the USTR about the Section 301 tariffs and to influence how the USTR may modify or retain the tariffs going forward.  The docket for submitting comments will open on November 15, 2022, and close on January 17, 2023.

USTR’s 4-Year Docket Review Questionnaire: What to Expect

The USTR’s questionnaire (here) provides three sets of questions, which we describe below.  Commenters can submit one or more of these sections based on their views.  Commenters may also supplement their questionnaire responses with attachments.

Section A (Effectiveness and Economy-Wide Impact)The first section requests that stakeholders gauge the effectiveness and economy-wide impacts of the Section 301 tariffs.   Stakeholders can share perspectives on whether, for example, the tariffs have impacted China’s use of discriminatory policies, what changes China has made to those policies (if any), and whether the tariffs have counteracted China’s policies.  Additionally, stakeholders can describe how the tariffs can be more effective, their impact on the U.S. economy, and any alternate policy suggestions that the USTR should consider.

Section B (Sector/Industry-Specific Impact).  The second section requests comments on whether the tariffs have been effective in eliminating discriminatory Chinese practices pertinent to specific sectors or industries.  Stakeholders can provide a detailed analysis of the sector/industry-specific impacts that the Section 301 tariffs or other policy options may have on U.S. employment, wages, domestic manufacturing, capital investment, supply chain shifts and resiliency, and consumer goods.

Section C (Tariff-Specific Impact).  The third section requests comments about specific tariff subheadings covered by the Section 301 tariffs and whether those tariffs should be maintained, eliminated, or changed.  The questionnaire asks whether tariffs on specific goods have affected domestic manufacturing, U.S. employment and wages, small businesses, inventory practices for products or downstream products, and supply chain shifts.  Further, stakeholders are given the opportunity to identify goods that have not been subject to Section 301 tariffs and that, in their opinion, should be.  Identified tariff codes will require an explanation of how new tariffs could counter discriminatory Chinese policies and impact the U.S. economy.

All comments will be posted on the docket, USTR-2022-0014 (here).  While comments will be publicly accessible, certain questions will allow for the removal of business confidential information.