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Americans for Free Trade and Farmers for Free Trade Encourage President-elect Biden to Review, Remove U.S. Trade Restrictions

WASHINGTON, D.C., (December 7, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade and Farmers for Free Trade sent a joint letter to President-elect Biden and his transition team that encourages the review and removal of current trade policies that are negatively impacting the American economy, particularly as it works to sustain a recovery from COVID-19.

Over 150 trade associations and companies signed the letter, highlighting for President-elect Biden how tariffs have cost American businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and consumers over $68 billion.

“We all agree that our trading partners must live up to their commitments. However, the current Section 301 China tariffs and Section 232 steel/aluminum tariffs have been a blunt instrument, imposing undue costs on U.S. employers and families,” wrote Americans for Free Trade and Farmers for Free Trade. “Tariffs have increased costs for U.S. manufacturers, who rely on imported inputs and components for production at home, and for importers, whose businesses rely on finished consumer goods.  U.S. farmers and agribusiness have been the subject of retaliatory actions and have thus seen sales and exports evaporate. And U.S. consumers and working families have borne increased costs for household items they rely on every day. 

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

December 7, 2020
President-Elect Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 2023

Dear President Elect Biden,

On behalf of Americans for Free Trade and Farmers for Free Trade, we congratulate you on your election as the next President of the United States. As you have discussed, the first 100 days of your presidency will focus on battling COVID-19 and ensuring continued economic recovery from the ongoing pandemic. U.S. businesses stand ready to work with you on achieving these critical goals. 

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. 

As you and your team develop your plan, we strongly encourage the early review of how current U.S. trade policy and actions are adversely impacting our economy, particularly as it works to sustain a recovery from COVID-19. As a result of the current trade war against China and our other trading partners, U.S. businesses and consumers have paid over $68 billion in tariffs, which are taxes. Other countries do not pay these tariffs.

We all agree that our trading partners must live up to their commitments. However, the current Section 301 China tariffs and Section 232 steel/aluminum tariffs have been a blunt instrument, imposing undue costs on U.S. employers and families. Similarly, the US-EU large civil aircraft dispute at the WTO is ripe for a negotiated settlement that eliminates tariffs on both sides. Tariffs have increased costs for U.S. manufacturers, who rely on imported inputs and components for production at home, and for importers, whose businesses rely on finished consumer goods.  U.S. farmers and agribusiness have been the subject of retaliatory actions and have thus seen sales and exports evaporate. And U.S. consumers and working families have borne increased costs for household items they rely on every day. 

As the United States grapples with a raging pandemic, it should not have to bear these increased costs and economic harm any further. The tariffs continue to hamper pandemic response and recovery efforts and limit the ability of U.S. companies to invest in their businesses and people.

The future of our trade policy must not be a go it alone approach. We must work with our allies to address the systemic issues with China, which was the stated reason why the trade war was launched. Our allies will only support our efforts to address China’s unfair trading practices if we resolve ongoing disputes and remove those tariffs. In the medium-term, developing new ways to ensure a level playing in our trade and economic relationship with China is critical. But, the China challenge will not be resolved in a short period of time and in the meantime U.S. businesses are bearing a multi-billion dollar burden paying over $68 billion to date in tariffs as a result of the trade war. Finding a way to remove the tariffs while creating an effective new, multilaterally-supported approach to China trade issues would provide an immediate economic boost to U.S. companies, especially small and medium sized companies

We look forward to working with you and your transition team as you develop your first 100 days strategy and a future trade strategy.

Sincerely,

Accessories Council
ACT | The App Association 
Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC)
ALTI – Audio and Loudspeaker Technologies International
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 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 of American Publishers
Association For Creative Industries
Association for PRINT Technologies
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 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 
Flexible Packaging Association
Florida Ports Council
Florida Retail Federation
Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA)
Fragrance Creators Association
Game Manufacturers 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
Internet 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
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 Printing Ink Manufacturers
National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM)
National Confectioners Association
National Council of Chain Restaurants
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 American Meat Institute
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
PeopleforBikes 
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)
RV Industry Association
San Diego Customs Brokers and Forwarders Assn.
SEMI
Snowsports Industries America
Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates
Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
Specialty Equipment Market Association
Specialty Vehicle Institute of America 
Sports & Fitness Industry Association
TechNet
Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
Texas Retailers Association
Texas Water Infrastructure Network 
The Airforwarders Association
The Fertilizer Institute
The Hardwood Federation
The Toy Association
Travel Goods Association
Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA)
United States Council for International Business
United States Fashion Industry Association
US Global Value Chain Coalition
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)

AFT Statement Regarding Possibility of Added Tariffs on Vietnamese Goods

WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 19, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement regarding the possibility of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer imposing added tariffs on Vietnamese goods.
 
“Imposing additional tariffs, which are taxes paid directly to the federal government, on American businesses, manufacturers, and consumers would be a big step in the wrong direction – especially as businesses continue to recover from the economic harm caused by the global pandemic. President Trump’s trade war with China forced many U.S. companies to shift their supply chains away from China to countries like Vietnam, and now these manufacturers are being unfairly punished. As we’ve seen with China, imposing tariffs does not work and harms American consumers. We are calling on Ambassador Lighthizer to refrain from imposing new tariffs on Vietnamese goods as a result of the latest Section 301 investigation.”

AFT Urges President-Elect Biden to Commit to Lifting the Tariffs and Ending Trade War

WASHINGTON, D.C., (November 12, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement urging President-elect Biden to commit to repealing the trade war tariffs that continue to harm U.S. businesses.

“With the 2020 presidential election behind us, we strongly encourage President-elect Biden and his transition team to commit to lifting the tariffs and ending the trade war with China. The current tariffs on China continue to hurt U.S. businesses, manufacturers and exporters who are trying to recover from the continuing economic harm from the pandemic. The additional costs of the tariffs continue to impact those efforts. We urge President-elect Biden to stand with American businesses and workers and make repealing the tariffs one of his top priorities during his first 30 days in office. American businesses, manufacturers, exporters and farmers who have paid billions of dollars in tariffs to the federal government continue to struggle amid the economic crisis. As President-elect Biden works to help the economy recover, he must make ending the trade war a top priority.”

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.

Sincerely,
 

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

PeopleforBikes

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.

SEMI

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

TechNet

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)

CC: 

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

As Election Day Approaches, AFT Calls on Both Presidential Candidates to Reject Tariffs in Their Final Argument to Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 29, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of next week’s election.  
 
“In the last few days before the election, President Trump and Vice President Biden must commit to repealing the tariffs and ending the failed trade war in their final argument to voters. Key swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are among the hardest hit by tariffs, and voters in these states need to see leadership on trade policy from both candidates. While tariffs have not been the predominant issue of this campaign, to many farmers, business owners, and manufacturers, it is the single greatest challenge they face every day. President Trump and Vice President Biden would be wise to make sure the American people know they will put American workers and consumers first and end the trade war.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement Ahead of Final Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 22, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of tonight’s final Presidential debate.  

“As President Trump and Vice President Biden make their final pitch to voters during tonight’s debate, it is critical that both candidates use their time on the national stage to commit to repealing tariffs and ending the trade war. It is long overdue for the tariffs to be lifted, yet neither candidate has made a firm commitment to end the trade war if they’re elected in November. American farmers, businesses, and consumers continue to pay tens of billions of dollars in tariffs at the same time they struggle to stay afloat amid the economic crisis. Americans need relief now. We encourage both candidates to use tonight as an opportunity to show leadership and promise immediate relief to Americans.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement On Trade and Tariff Comments During Vice Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 8, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement regarding last night’s Vice Presidential Debate at the University of Utah. 

“Last night’s debate gave Americans the opportunity to hear where the Vice Presidential candidates stand on tariffs and the trade war. While Vice President Pence doubled down on the Administration’s trade policies, Senator Harris highlighted the devastating impact of the trade war on jobs, manufacturing, and agriculture in the United States. Although Vice President Pence attacked Vice President Biden’s plan ‘to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect,’ it 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 began. Lifting the tariffs should not be a partisan issue – members of both parties have long supported trade policies that put American workers and farmers first – and we urge both the Trump Administration and Biden campaign to commit to repealing the tariffs.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement Ahead of Vice Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (October 7, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement ahead of tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate at the University of Utah. 

“Never in recent history have the stakes been higher for a Vice Presidential debate, and millions of Americans will be tuning in tonight to hear directly from Vice President Pence and Senator Harris about their vision for our country. As the economy and American businesses continue to struggle, both candidates would be wise to use this opportunity to speak out against tariffs, and the billions of dollars in taxes that American companies, farmers, and consumers have paid as a result of the President’s failed trade war with China. We should use every tool available to help lift our nation out of this economic crisis, and we urge Vice President Pence and Senator Harris to use their time on the national stage to show leadership on this issue and call for tariffs to be lifted.”

Americans For Free Trade Statement On First Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C., (September 30, 2020) — Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement on the presidential debate in Cleveland, OH last night.   
 
“During last night’s presidential debate, both candidates had the opportunity to show their support for American businesses, farmers, and workers by vowing to end the trade war and lift tariffs. Unfortunately, neither candidate used their time to highlight how tariffs and the ongoing trade war have cost Americans nearly $60 billion. While the President repeatedly attacked China as he has throughout his presidency to justify the trade war, he failed to mention that tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, not China. These taxes have been particularly harmful for businesses already struggling this year amid the economic downturn. In this final stretch of the campaign, it is critical for both candidates to commit to ending the tariffs and focus their efforts instead on policies that will help revitalize American businesses and communities and provide much-needed relief to our manufacturing and agricultural sectors.”

Americans for Free Trade Applauds Representatives Walorski, Peterson for Their Bipartisan Bill to Extend Tariff Exclusions

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.

Sincerely,