Counting the Days: Retailers Await USTR Tariff Relief

One year ago, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) closed the public comment period for its four-year statutory review of section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports. This is a congressionally mandated review (Trade Act of 1974) to evaluate the effectiveness of the administration’s tariffs in holding China accountable for bad behavior and to determine whether maintaining them is appropriate.

For retailers, the answer is clear. Section 301 tariffs on consumer products from China have not resulted in improved behavior from China and in fact, it’s American businesses and consumers who have borne the cost. Since the tariffs were first implemented over five years ago, U.S. businesses have paid more than $198 billion in higher tariffs, on everything from toys to bookbags to kitchen gadgets. Beyond the initial sticker shock, this misguided policy has resulted in missed opportunities to invest in American jobs and new innovations that would promote U.S. economic growth at home and help us compete with China.

The prolonged process and uncertainty around the potential outcome are adding unnecessary stress to retail supply chains, at a time when global pressures are already putting them to the test. Frustration continues to grow around this delayed process because in March of 2023, USTR told Congress the review would be completed last fall, and then revised that estimate to the end of 2023. But no report has been released and USTR has given no assurances that outcomes from the review will be announced any time soon. Hopefully, this issue does not get caught up in election year politics to the detriment of American companies and consumers.

We urge USTR to complete and release its section 301 review as soon as possible, with the recommendation to transition U.S. trade policy away from this harmful broad stroke approach and toward a more targeted strategy, lowering tariffs on consumer products, to address China’s unfair trade practices and to keep American businesses competitive.

  • International Trade
  • Keeping Supply Chains Open & Resilient
  • Public Policy
  • Supply Chain
  • Supporting Free Markets and Fostering Innovation
  • China Trade Tariffs

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