WASHINGTON, D.C., (July 28, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade sent a letter to Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) expressing strong support for their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 7665, to extend current product exclusions from the Section 301 China tariffs for at least one year. Over 160 trade associations signed the letter, citing the need to provide certainty for companies who have been granted exclusions and give transparency to the current exclusion process.
“As businesses around the country try to recover from the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they need as much certainty as possible to ensure a full and successful recovery,” Americans for Free Trade wrote. “The exclusion process as implemented by USTR should not stand as a barrier to a businesses’ ability to recover. Businesses often have to wait months – and some have waited up to a year – to find out from USTR whether they have been granted an exclusion.”
The full text of the letter may be found here and below:
July 28, 2020
The Honorable Jackie Walorski
419 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Collin Peterson
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Walorski and Representative Peterson,
On behalf of Americans for Free Trade, we are writing to thank you for your leadership and express our strong support for H.R. 7665, which directs the United States Trade Representative to extend current product exclusions from the Section 301 China tariffs for at least one year. We fully believe that H.R. 7665 is needed to provide certainty for companies who have been granted exclusions and transparency to the current exclusion process.
Our coalition represents every part of the U.S. economy including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, retailers, technology companies, service suppliers, natural gas and oil companies, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders. Collectively, we support tens of millions of American jobs through our vast supply chains.
As businesses around the country try to recover from the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they need as much certainty as possible to ensure a full and successful recovery. The exclusion process as implemented by USTR should not stand as a barrier to a businesses’ ability to recover. Businesses often have to wait months – and some have waited up to a year – to find out from USTR whether they have been granted an exclusion. Often that news comes at the last minute, with the exclusion expiring shortly after they receive it. This forces businesses to expend resources reapplying for the same exclusion right away.
We have also heard from many businesses about the lack of transparency around the process, for example how or why one business is granted a product exclusion, but another is denied for the same product. In many instances, companies who have been denied an exclusion – even in instances where there was no industry objection – have not been provided full details as to why their exclusion was denied. This information would help businesses better understand the type of information USTR is looking for in future exclusion requests, as well as understand whether USTR is administering the process in a fair and transparent manner.
We recently submitted comments for the record for the Ways & Means Committee hearing with Ambassador Lighthizer on the 2020 Trade Policy Agenda. In those comments, we called upon the Committee to increase its oversight of the exclusion process and insist that USTR administer the process in a fair, transparent, and efficient manner to ensure that it provides meaningful relief for those bearing the brunt of these harmful tariffs. We also noted concerns with Ambassador Lighthizer’s comments that future extensions to current exclusions would only be granted through this calendar year. We believe the statements demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the complex business decisions that determine where global supply chains are developed and whether they can or should be moved. The comments also showed little regard for the economic uncertainty faced by American businesses because of the COVID-19 outbreak. That is why your legislation, which will provide much-needed certainty, is so critically important.
We thank you for your ongoing leadership regarding the impact of tariffs on U.S. businesses throughout the economy. We encourage quick passage of H.R. 7665.