Lawmakers Request Prompt Conclusion to Section 301 Review

During back-to-back hearings this month on the administration’s 2024 Trade Policy Agenda, members of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees expressed frustration with the slow progress of the mandatory four-year review of section 301 tariffs on goods from China and the administration’s lack of a clear trade policy.
Lawmakers rightfully pointed out that USTR initiated this review on May 3, 2022, four years after the tariffs went into effect, when it first sought domestic industry input. USTR has had nearly two years to conduct the review and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai was still unable to provide an end date for the tariff review process when pressed by lawmakers other than saying “very soon.” Ambassador Tai also made cryptic statements saying the administration would unveil an “entire package” on tariffs and that the tariffs would be realigned to make them “more effective and strategic.” Unfortunately, it remains unclear when and what actions the administration is taking on the four-year review.

Committee members also criticized the administration for its failure to negotiate new free trade agreements (FTAs) with foreign partners, opting instead for frameworks that lack the same market access provisions and enforcement mechanisms as traditional pacts. Ambassador Tai responded to these criticisms by stating, wrongly, that FTAs “pit” Americans against Americans. She claimed that some groups such as farmers benefit from these agreements while industrial workers do not. Lawmakers pushed back, noting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USCMA) is the gold standard for future FTAs – citing the agreement’s novel labor and environment commitments, as well as strong enforcement mechanisms, which create a more level playing field for American workers.
RILA shares Congress’ concern about the administration’s current trade agenda. Leading retailers urge USTR to immediately conclude the section 301 four-year review on goods from China and release the results. The prolonged process has exacerbated the uncertainty around the future of the tariffs. We further urge Congress to demand that USTR provide an immediate extension for the limited China 301 tariff exclusions and COVID exclusions, which are currently set to expire on May 31.

In addition, we echo the lawmakers’ concern regarding the lack of new FTAs negotiated by the administration. RILA urges USTR to reconsider its current approach and negotiate robust, enforceable FTAs that open market access and reduce non-tariff barriers for U.S. manufacturers and importers. By doing so, the U.S. can reclaim its leadership role in setting global trade rules and ensuring American businesses can compete globally.
  • Public Policy
  • Supply Chain
  • Supporting Free Markets and Fostering Innovation
  • China Trade Tariffs

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