AFT Sends Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Action on Transparent, Fair Tariffs Exclusions Process

WASHINGTON, D.C., (March 3, 2022) — Today, Americans for Free Trade (AFT), a broad coalition of American businesses, trade organizations, and workers united against tariffs sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy encouraging Congress to include language requiring the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to restart a comprehensive, transparent, and fair exclusions process for products subject to 301 tariffs.

“While we continue to call for an end to the additional tariffs on U.S. companies as well as China’s retaliatory tariffs, we believe reinstituting the section 301 exclusion process is critical to providing interim relief for U.S. businesses,” Americans for Free Trade wrote.“We welcomed USTR’s announcement in October to open an exclusions process for a limited set of products. However, that process is only available to approximately 1 percent of the original exclusion applications and USTR has yet to announce any new exclusions from the process. To provide meaningful relief, a more robust process is needed.”

178 trade associations signed on to the letter. The full text of the letter may be found here and below.

March 3, 2022

The Honorable Chuck Schumer                    
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi   
Speaker of the House 
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

RE:     Support for Section 301 Product Exclusions Process in China Competition Legislation

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

The Americans for Free Trade (AFT) coalition supports congressional action on bipartisan legislation that will help American businesses and workers compete globally, including against China. Integral to improving U.S. competitiveness is addressing harmful tariffs that have increased costs for American businesses and families. For this reason, we strongly support language included as part of the Trade Act of 2021 in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) that would require the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to reinvigorate the exclusion process for products subject to additional tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Such a provision enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support, with a 91-4 vote. We had hoped such language would be included in the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), but regrettably, it was not. As these two China competition bills move towards a conference process, we urge Congress to include language requiring USTR to restart a comprehensive, transparent, and fair exclusions process – with retroactivity – for products subject to the 301 tariffs.

By way of background, Americans for Free Trade 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 employ tens of millions of Americans through our vast supply chains.

As companies in the U.S. continue to recover from the global pandemic, face supply chain disruptions, and operate in an inflationary economic environment, we continue to call upon the administration to use more strategic tools to address China’s unfair trade practices without further damaging U.S. competitiveness. To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has assessed nearly $127 billion dollars in tariffs from U.S. companies who import products from China. These taxes increase the cost of doing business in the United States and place a financial burden on U.S businesses – negatively impacting their ability to invest in their companies, hire more American workers, and remain competitive globally.

While we continue to call for an end to the additional tariffs on U.S. companies as well as China’s retaliatory tariffs, we believe reinstituting the section 301 exclusion process is critical to providing interim relief for U.S. businesses. According to a recent Moody’s Investor Service Report, the tariffs “hit American businesses and consumers hardest,” with China absorbing only 7.6 percent of the tariffs “while the rest of the tab was picked up by Americans.” Further, recent articles have highlighted that the tariffs are having a modest but real impact on inflationary pressures.[1] A new, comprehensive, transparent, and fair exclusions process would help alleviate the economic burden on American businesses and consumers. 

We welcomed USTR’s announcement in October to open an exclusions process for a limited set of products. However, that process is only available to approximately 1 percent of the original exclusion applications and USTR has yet to announce any new exclusions from the process. To provide meaningful relief, a more robust process is needed. This view is shared by at least 141 bipartisan House members and 41 bipartisan Senators who recently wrote to Ambassador Tai urging USTR to open a broader exclusions process.  

Absent a clear indication from USTR that it will use its authority to provide a comprehensive, transparent, and fair exclusions process, Congress must act. We therefore urge Congress to include language in a conferenced China bill that would require USTR to reinstitute a comprehensive, transparent, and fair exclusions process – with retroactivity – for products subject to the section 301 tariffs.


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 Clean Power Association 

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 Seed Trade Association

American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

American Trucking 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

Business Alliance for Customs Modernization

California Bottled Water Association

California Retailers Association

Can Manufacturers Institute

Carolina Loggers Association

Central States Bottled Water 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 

Energy Workforce & Technology Council

Experiential Designers and Producers 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 Business Alliance

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

Michigan Chemistry Council

Michigan Retailers Association

Mid-America Bottled Water 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 Printing Ink Manufacturers

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 Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM)

North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD)

North Carolina Retail Merchants Association

Northwest Bottled Water 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

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.


Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)

Snowsports Industries America

Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates

Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)

South Atlantic Bottled Water Association

South Dakota Retailers Association

Southeastern Bottled Water Association

Specialty Equipment Market Association

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America 

Sports & Fitness Industry Association


Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

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:      Members of the United States Senate

            Members of the United States House of Representatives

Articles Related to Tariffs’ Effect on Inflation:

Bloomberg, Feb. 8, 2022

The Washington Post | Feb. 8, 2022

Star Tribune | Feb. 6, 2022

Vogue Business | Jan. 5, 2022

The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 5, 2021

Harvard Kennedy School | Dec. 1, 2021

Progressive Policy Institute Newsletter

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco | Feb. 25, 2019

Administration Comments on Tariffs & Inflation

CNBC | Nov. 30, 2021

CNN | Nov. 21, 2021

Nov. 14, 2021

Reuters | Nov. 1, 2021

Recent AFT Coalition Member Pieces:

2 Years Since Trade Deal with China, Tariffs Aren’t Working for American Businesses

Entrepreneur, MSN | Feb. 11 2022

Trade Wars Worsen Shipping Crisis

Townhall | Sept. 7, 2021

Joe Bell: Ongoing trade war limits recovery for U.S. businesses

Tribune Review | June 23, 2021

Repeal Tariffs to Boost the Economy, Help Small Businesses

RealClearMarkets | March 25, 2021

Removing tariffs is key to economic relief

Washington Examiner, Feb. 24, 2021

[1] See the attached list of articles discussing the section 301 China tariffs’ contributions to U.S. inflation woes.