As we previously reported, in July 2018, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced that it was establishing a process by which interested parties could request that their imports from China be excluded from the scope of the tariffs imposed on them under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Pursuant to this process, interested persons could submit exclusion requests for the first group of products covered by the Section 301 tariffs until October 9, 2018.

USTR announced a similar exclusion process for the second group of products covered by the Section 301 tariffs in September 2018. In that announcement, USTR stated that parties could submit exclusion requests for this group of products until December 18, 2018. USTR explained that it would grant the requests after evaluating several factors, including whether the product covered by the request was available from non-Chinese suppliers and whether the tariffs caused severe economic harm to requesting party. So far, USTR has received more than 11,000 exclusion requests from importers and purchasers affected by the tariffs.

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced that it had made its first set of exclusion request decisions. USTR. It stated that it had decided to grant exclusion requests covering approximately 984 products covered by the tariffs. In the announcement, USTR explained that it had granted exclusions for specific HTSUS subheadings or specific product descriptions. The exclusions granted by the agency covered a variety of products, including products like papermaking machinery, ball bearings, thermostats, and non-electric water filtration systems.

The exclusions will last for a year and will apply retroactively to imports that entered the country on and after July 6, 2018. According to USTR, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) will provide guidance to importers on how they can obtain refunds of the Section 301 duties paid on these imports. Due to the on-going shutdown, however, CBP has not yet released its guidance on how to obtain a refund of these duties.

USTR also denied approximately 1,258 exclusion requests. USTR has not yet issued final decisions on most of the exclusion requests filed by interested persons. The agency intends to periodically announce decisions on the remaining exclusion requests in the future.