Earlier this week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) began accepting comments on whether to further extend the 429 Section 301 product exclusions currently in effect and scheduled to expire May 31, 2024. The docket opened on January 22, 2024, and will close February 21, 2024. Companies with an interest in having the exclusions extended should submit comments.
The 429 product exclusions that are the subject of this public comment process were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2023. Just days before the expiration, however, the USTR announced that (i) it was extending these product exclusions through May 31, 2024, and (ii) it would solicit comments from the public on whether to extend any of these product exclusions beyond May 31, 2024.1
The extension was good news for the companies that use the product exclusions. All companies that import Chinese-origin articles subject to the Section 301 duties should review the list of 429 product exclusions to see if they can benefit (i.e., any product that fits within the scope of a certain exclusion can utilize that exclusion; the exclusions are not importer/company specific).
In addition, companies that benefit from these exclusions should consider submitting comments during this process. Comments must be submitted through USTR’s online portal and will be accepted up through February 21, 2024. The topics on which USTR is seeking comments include the following:
- the availability of products covered by the exclusion from sources outside of China
- efforts undertaken to source the product from the United States or third countries
- why additional time is needed to shift sourcing out of China and on what timeline, if any, the commenter expects sourcing to shift outside of China
Companies that would like to comment on more than one exclusion must submit a separate comment for each exclusion.
The USTR is conducting this process as part of its four-year review of the Section 301 duties.2 The four-year review began in 2022, and the USTR had indicated that it would complete the review by fall of 2023. This new comment process suggests that the Biden administration is taking the four-year review of the Section 301 duties seriously (i.e., the administration is considering whether to make changes to the duties based on the results of the review). The USTR has not completed its review/issued its report, so it kicked the can down the road on the existing 429 product exclusions (i.e., the USTR’s press release states that the extension “will also facilitate the alignment of further decisions on these exclusions with the ongoing four-year review”3). The five-month extension suggests that this issue will linger well into 2024.
1 Extension of Exclusions and Request for Comments: China’s Acts, Policies and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Innovation, 88 Fed. Reg. 90225 (December 29, 2023).
3 USTR Extends Exclusions from China Section 301 Tariffs to Allow for Comments on a Review of the Exclusions and Alignment with Four-Year Review, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (December 26, 2023).
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