As the four-year review of Section 301 duties continues, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) stated last week that the Biden administration will be extending tariff exclusions through May 31, 2024. These exclusions, listed in the USTR’s index, were set to expire on December 31, 2023, but the administration chose to extend the deadline, allowing the agency to thoroughly complete the “orderly sunsetting” of these exclusions. The agency outlined in its December 26th, 2023 statement that a docket will be opening on January 22nd, 2024, to allow for public comments on whether to extend existing exclusions past May 2024. The commenting period is set to close on February 21st, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The new docket will focus on “the availability of products covered by the exclusion from sources outside of China, efforts undertaken to source products covered by the exclusion from the United States or third countries, why additional time is needed, and on what timeline, if any, the sourcing of products covered by exclusion is likely to shift outside of China.”

Following the inception of the Section 301 duties on Chinese goods under the Trump administration, USTR introduced a process allowing importers to apply for exclusion from these duties. Although most of the exclusions have expired, 352 exclusions were reinstated in and extended repeatedly since 2022, when the statutory review of the tariffs began. Additionally, USTR has allowed and extended exclusions for certain medical goods designated as essential in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of current exclusions to 429.

The first public comment window, which closed in January 2023 with around 1,500 comments submitted on more than 115 HTS codes, focused on the effectiveness of the Section 301 tariffs to combat unfair trade practices by China as well as how the actions have affected the United States economy, including U.S. workers and consumers.

This delay follows another extension in October 2023, when the office noted that adequate examination under the four-year review necessitated additional time. This most recent extension prolongs the anticipated completion of the review, which U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai marked as the fall, per her summer statements. The four-year review process, which was initiated on May 3, 2022, has lasted over a year and a half. However, last week the office declined to comment on a projected end date.