The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative received nearly 1,497 comments from the public by the January 17th deadline as part of its review of the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports. The review is required by law and covers all four lists subject to the tariffs. Lists 1, 2 and 3, with a total of roughly 6,800 products listed, have a 25% tariff rate on imports from China, while List 4a has about 3,200 Chinese imports subject to a 7.5% tariff rate. 

The White House is under considerable pressure to remove the tariffs, which many have called ineffective in changing China’s policies. The policy under review is “the effectiveness of the tariff actions in obtaining the elimination of China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.” The tariff review is unlikely to lead to the lifting of all 10,000 tariffs on China. However, USTR could decide to lift some tariffs while retaining others and possibly restart a tariff-exclusion process, allowing importers to petition for temporary tariff relief.

The Biden White House must walk a fine line trying to appease those who want tariff relief but not appear to be soft on China. Sources here in Washington indicate it will take USTR several months to review the nearly 1,500 comments, so we should not expect much action until possibly the spring.