Trade Compliance Flash: Steps to Consider Regarding the Proposed Tariff on Certain Imports from China
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) recently released a list of products from China that will be subject to a proposed 25 percent tariff – in addition to any other applicable tariffs – following a determination that the practices of the government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation restrict U.S. commerce.
The list (available here) covers approximately 1,300 products, defined by eight-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes. The list targets aerospace, machinery, and high-tech products. It also includes pharmaceutical products, articles of iron and steel, and articles of aluminum. In response to these proposed tariffs, China has released a list of its own proposed tariffs on U.S. goods, affecting mostly agricultural products and steel tubing.
The tariffs proposed by the Office of the USTR are open for public comment until May 11, and a public hearing will be held May 15, 2018. Requests to testify at the hearing must be submitted by April 23. Below are four steps to consider in connection with these proposed tariffs:
- Determine if your company is importing products under an HTS code listed in the Annex to the USTR notice (i.e., covered by the proposed tariff ). Obtaining the official record of your company's import transactions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a straight-forward process. If your company has an Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) account, the data can be accessed immediately and free of charge through the ACE Portal. If your company does not have an ACE account, you may obtain the data by filing a FOIA request and paying a nominal processing fee here.
- If your company is currently importing products under any of the HTS codes listed in the Annex to the USTR notice, consider requesting a binding ruling from CBP to confirm the correct tariff classification. A favorable classification ruling can have the immediate result of duty savings, but given its binding nature, it is important to carefully evaluate all of the consequences before filing.
- File a public comment or prepare testimony for the upcoming hearing. Importers as well as domestic producers should consider submitting public comments or hearing testimony directed at whether certain tariff lines should remain or be removed from the tariff list, as well as whether additional tariff lines should be added. Comments should address whether the proposed tariffs are likely to halt China's trade practices (on a tariff line-specific basis), as well as whether the tariffs will cause disproportionate economic harm to U.S. interests, including consumers and small and medium-sized businesses. Comments are due by May 11; proposed testimony for the USTR hearing must be submitted by April 23.
- Enlist the support of your congressional representatives. Importers and domestic producers should consider outreach to their U.S. senators and representatives. Such outreach serves to educate Congress as to how these proposed tariffs could affect constituent business operations and jobs. A letter of support from your Congressional representatives may help your cause.
There is not yet a date certain when the proposed tariffs would go into effect. We will continue to monitor this matter and report on developments of interest. In the interim, if you have any questions about how these proposed tariffs may affect you, please contact us.
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