Interested parties have filed nearly 1,400 comments on the United States Trade Representative’s proposed list of products that will be subject to an additional 25% in duties as a result of the Section 301 investigation into China’s intellectual property practices. The deadline for filing comments is approaching – May 11, 2018 – and USTR will hold its public hearing next week on May 15, 2018. More than 140 requests to appear at the hearing have already been filed, which is an indication of the widespread impact that these proposed duties will have on U.S. industry and imports. Final post-hearing submissions are due by May 22, 2018.
Section 301 refers to the relevant provision of the Trade Act of 1974 under which USTR is authorized to conduct an investigation into unfair acts, policies, and practices. In August 2017, President Trump directed USTR to determine whether China’s actions related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are “unreasonable, unjustifiable, or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” Following the investigation, the President instructed USTR to publish a proposed list of products, which it did in April. The list included more than 1,300 tariff lines, with the intention to cover approximately $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. According to USTR, the total value of imports subject to the additional duties is in line with an economic analysis of the harm caused by China’s unreasonable technology transfer policies to the U.S. economy.
After review of the numerous comments and consideration of the hearing testimony next week, USTR will announce its final determination and publish the final product list in the Federal Register. At that point, U.S. importers will be required to pay an additional 25% in duties, possibly as early as June or July.