Americans for Free Trade Urges USTR Lighthizer to Extend Tariff Exclusions Deadline, Provide American Businesses Relief

WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 5, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer calling for an automatic extension of the current tariff exclusions beyond the December 31 deadline. The letter also calls for the USTR to publish a new, public comment process for expiring exclusions that would include previous exclusions that have not been renewed. 

Over 160 trade associations signed the letter, citing the need to provide American businesses with much-needed relief during this uncertain and unprecedented time.

“Extending product exclusions is a straightforward and efficient way for the administration to  provide certainty and relief to American businesses during this difficult economic time,” Americans for Free Trade wrote. “Until the Section 301 tariffs are fully eliminated, we urge USTR to maintain a robust, predictable, and  transparent product exclusion process.”

The full text of the letter may be found here and below:

November 5, 2020

The Honorable Robert E. Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

600 Seventeenth Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

On behalf of the Americans for Free Trade coalition, we write to urge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to move expeditiously to extend exclusions for products covered by the Section 301 China tariffs before they expire on December 31, 2020. Doing so would provide certainty for American businesses already struggling with the economic fallout from COVID-19 and avoid doing additional harm to the U.S. economy.

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, powersports manufacturers, importers, exporters, and other supply chain stakeholders. Collectively, we support tens of millions of American jobs through our vast supply chains. 

While we continue to advocate for the full elimination of the Section 301 tariffs, we recognize the important role that the product exclusion process has played in alleviating the burden of additional tariffs for some American businesses. So long as Section 301 tariffs remain in place, having a predictable, fair, and transparent product exclusion process is vital to creating a modicum of certainty for American businesses. That certainty, however, is in jeopardy as all remaining product exclusions are set to expire at the end of this year. As American businesses continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they should not have to face the uncertainty of tax increases on January 1 because of a reimposition of tariffs on previously excluded products. It remains unclear whether USTR intends to offer additional product exclusion extension opportunities for the remaining exclusions. We believe it is crucial for USTR to do so.

More specifically, we urge USTR to automatically extend existing product exclusions for at least six months. This move would be welcome news to the American businesses, workers, consumers, and farmers who have paid nearly $60 billion in taxes to the federal government in the form of tariffs since the trade war with China began. It would also provide certainty for American businesses trying to recover from the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alternatively, we urge USTR to issue a Federal Register Notice announcing a new public comment period to extend expiring exclusions as soon as possible. This should also include an opportunity to submit comments for products covered by exclusions that were not extended by USTR earlier this year.

Extending product exclusions is a straightforward and efficient way for the administration to provide certainty and relief to American businesses during this difficult economic time. Until the Section 301 tariffs are fully eliminated, we urge USTR to maintain a robust, predictable, and transparent product exclusion process.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Accessories Council

ACT | The App Association

Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC)

ALMA, International (Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics)

American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)

American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI)

American Association of Port Authorities

American Bakers Association

American Bridal & Prom Industry Association (ABPIA)

American Chemistry Council

American Coatings Association, Inc. (ACA)

American Down and Feather Council

American Fly Fishing Trade Association

American Home Furnishings Alliance

American Lighting Association

American Petroleum Institute

American Pyrotechnics Association

American Rental Association

American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

American Wind Energy Association

Arizona Technology Council

Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association

Association For Creative Industries

Association for PRINT Technologies

Association of American Publishers

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers

Auto Care Association

Beer Institute

BSA | The Software Alliance

California Retailers Association

Can Manufacturers Institute

Carolina Loggers Association

Chemical Industry Council of Delaware (CICD)

Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT)

Coalition of Services Industries (CSI)

Colorado Retail Council

Columbia River Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn.

Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA)

Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)

Consumer Brands Association

Consumer Technology Association

Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

CropLife America

Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Assn. of Washington State

Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders of Northern California

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Electronic Transactions Association

Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA)

Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association

Flexible Packaging Association

Florida Ports Council

Florida Retail Federation

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA)

Fragrance Creators Association

Game Manufacturers Association

Gemini Shippers Association

Georgia Retailers

Global Chamber®

Global Cold Chain Alliance

Greeting Card Association

Halloween Industry Association

Home Fashion Products Association

Home Furnishings Association

Household and Commercial Products Association

Idaho Retailers Association

Illinois Retail Merchants Association

Independent Office Products & Furniture

Dealers Association (IOPFDA)

Indiana Retail Council

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)

International Foodservice Distributors Association

International Housewares Association

International Warehouse and Logistics Association

International Wood Products Association

ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association

Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee

Juice Products Association (JPA)

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

Leather and Hide Council of America

Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association

Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight

Forwarders Assn.

Louisiana Retailers Association

Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association

Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association

Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay

Maryland Retailers Association

Methanol Institute

Michigan Chemistry Council

Michigan Retailers Association

Minnesota Retailers Association

Missouri Retailers Association

Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association

Motorcycle Industry Council

NAPIM (National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers)

National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS)

National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD)

National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ)

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of Music Merchants

National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM)

National Confectioners Association

National Council of Chain Restaurants

National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)

National Fisheries Institute

National Foreign Trade Council

National Grocers Association

National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association

National Marine Manufacturers Association

National Restaurant Association

National Retail Federation

National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association

National Sporting Goods Association

Natural Products Association

New Jersey Retail Merchants Association

North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD)

North Carolina Retail Merchants Association

Ohio Council of Retail Merchants

Outdoor Industry Association

Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight

Forwarders Assns. Inc.

Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association


Personal Care Products Council

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

Petroleum Equipment & Services Association

Plumbing Manufacturers International

Power Tool Institute (PTI)

Promotional Products Association International

Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association

Retail Association of Maine

Retail Council of New York State

Retail Industry Leaders Association

Retailers Association of Massachusetts

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)

San Diego Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn.


Snowsports Industries America

Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates

Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)

South Dakota Retailers Association

Specialty Equipment Market Association

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America

Sports & Fitness Industry Association


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

Texas Retailers Association

Texas Water Infrastructure Network

The Airforwarders Association

The Fertilizer Institute

The Hardwood Federation

The Toy Association

The Vinyl Institute

Travel Goods Association

Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA)

United States Council for International Business

United States Fashion Industry Association

US Global Value Chain Coalition

US-China Business Council

Virginia Retail Merchants Association

Virginia-DC District Export Council (VA-DC DEC)

Washington Retail Association

Window and Door Manufacturers Association

World Pet Association, Inc. (WPA)


Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Department of Treasury

Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Department of Commerce

Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Director Larry Kudlow, National Economic Council of the United States

Members of Congress