The United States said on Tuesday it will take public comments regarding exclusions from its tariffs on Chinese imports, as President Joe Biden’s administration grapples with what it says is Beijing’s failure to honour the ‘Phase 1’ trade deal signed with his predecessor Donald Trump.
US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai announced on Monday that Washington would seek “frank conversations” with Beijing over its adherence to the January 2020 agreement meant to cool commercial tensions between the two economic powers.
That deal came after Trump imposed tariffs on $370 billion of Chinese products in 2018, citing trade practices that Washington deemed “unfair.”
However many US companies have criticised the levies, saying they drive up costs, since importers bear their brunt, and on Tuesday USTR announced a “targeted tariff exclusion process.”
More than 2,200 exclusions had previously been granted and 549 extended until most expired at the end of last year, the USTR said in a statement.
USTR to Review Tariff Exemptions
“As these exclusions were previously found to warrant additional time, USTR will evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, the possible reinstatement of each exclusion,” the statement said.
“The focus of the evaluation will be whether… the particular product remains available only from China.”
The public comment period runs from October 12 till December 1, and USTR said it would weigh the exclusion’s impact on factors including employment, supply chains and its overall policies towards China.
The USTR office said it is seeking comment on plans to revive a targeted tariff exclusion process for imports from China, specifically whether to reinstate previously extended exclusions on 549 import product categories.
The list of products includes industrial components, thermostats, medical supplies, bicycles and textiles.
A Federal Register notice for the comment period follows Tai’s announcement that she will engage with Chinese officials on trade irritants and revive USTR’s tariff exclusion process.
• AFP with additional editing by Jim Pollard