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LaHood Leads Over 100 Bipartisan Members of Congress in Calling on USTR to Establish New Tariff Exclusion Process

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) joined Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Suzan Delbene (D-WA) to lead over 100 bipartisan colleagues in calling on United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai to establish a new exclusion process for the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports. At a time when many companies and their workers are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, renewing this process would help support domestic businesses and target the effects of the tariffs on China, rather than U.S. companies and consumers.

"We all agree that we need to execute a bold, strategic plan to hold China accountable for its unfair trade practices, while encouraging businesses to manufacture and operate in the United States. However, while we strategically and comprehensively engage with China, including through tough enforcement, we must also support good-paying jobs in the United States." wrote the lawmakers. "To support American families, we once again urge USTR to create a pathway for targeted relief from Section 301 tariffs."
 

The full letter can be read here and below.

April 27, 2021

The Honorable Katherine C. Tai
United States Trade Representative
Office of the United State Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Tai:

We write today to express strong support for the establishment of a new exclusion process to allow U.S. importers to request relief from the Section 301 tariffs on imports from China. While we strongly support tough and effective action to address China’s unfair trade practices, we believe that there must be a meaningful opportunity for American companies to petition for relief from tariffs. We appreciate USTR’s recent extension of tariff exclusions for COVID-19-related products. However, we feel that the current exclusions are insufficient to provide the badly needed relief for businesses and workers struggling with the unprecedented economic hardship caused by the pandemic. A new exclusion process would provide support to domestic businesses and their workers as many of the products facing the Section 301 tariffs are critical inputs for U.S. supply chains and manufacturing plants that have sustained U.S. jobs through this crisis. Such a process would also provide American businesses across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, retail, energy, technology, and services, with the opportunity to petition for exclusions consistent with U.S. economic and foreign policy interests.

In the midst of our constituents’ struggle with COVID-19, American producers, employers, workers, and communities have suffered an additional economic burden: the section 301 tariffs. The lapse of critical exclusions, many of which expired on December 31, 2020, handed many businesses and their workers a significant bill while budgets were already tight. We all agree that we need to execute a bold, strategic plan to hold China accountable for its unfair trade practices, while encouraging businesses to manufacture and operate in the United States. However, while we strategically and comprehensively engage with China, including through tough enforcement, we must also support good-paying jobs in the United States. Many U.S. companies are eager to move supply chains out of China for a variety of reasons and began seeking reliable alternative suppliers over the last several years. However, in many instances those efforts were crippled by travel disruptions and global economic turmoil prompted by COVID-19, particularly for smaller U.S. businesses that do not have a global footprint. U.S. employers need more time to adapt.

Further, re-establishing an exclusion process would be consistent with a congressional directive in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (P.L. 116-6) requiring such a process be established. While one was eventually established, many of the same workers and businesses who were successful in getting relief now find themselves with no avenues of recourse, leaving them at a competitive disadvantage despite already having demonstrated the need for relief.

To support American families, we once again urge USTR to create a pathway for targeted relief from Section 301 tariffs. In our opinion, that process should include a streamlined process for stakeholders to seek relief, including expedited procedures for those who had been granted exclusions in the past. Additionally, in our opinion that process should be transparent, consistently applied, based on facts, including how Section 301 tariffs are applied to businesses, workers and communities, and administered in a way that would not undermine the broader and critically important bipartisan support to address serious concerns with China’s behavior.

Regarding this important matter, we thank you for your full and fair consideration consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

Sincerely,

### 

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