In an upcoming Federal Register notice, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, has announced that it will be seeking public comments on whether to extend Section 301 exclusions for various COVID-19 related medical-care products that are otherwise set to expire on September 30, 2021.
In March 2020, the USTR under the former administration began to exempt certain medical products from Section 301 tariffs in several rounds of exclusions. At about the same time, the USTR sought comments to determine if further modifications to the Section 301 tariffs on U.S. imports from China were necessary to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Responding to feedback from that process together with input from various advisory committees, on December 22, 2020, the USTR determined to extend 80 product exclusions on medical-care products that were set to expire on December 31, 2020 (until March 31, 2021) and to grant new tariff exclusions on additional medical-care products. On March 5, 2021, the USTR extended — through September 30, 2021 — the 99 product exclusions included in the December 2020 announcement.
Subsequent to USTR’s announcement of the extension for COVID-19 response products in March, the spread of COVID-19 in the United States initially declined, and domestic production of certain products covered by these exclusions increased. However, with the recent spread of the Delta variant, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are rising once again.
In light of these changing circumstances, including the ability of the U.S. to obtain certain products domestically or from other sources, USTR is requesting public comments on whether to extend particular exclusions for COVID-19 products for up to six months.
USTR says that each exclusion will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The evaluation will consider whether it remains appropriate to exclude certain products from the additional Section 301 duties in light of recent developments including the spread of the Delta variant in the U.S., increased domestic production of certain products, and impact on the overall goal of the Sec. 301 trade action against China.
How to Comment
Those wishing to comment on any of the 99 COVID-19 response exclusions can do so via the USTR Comments Portal (Docket ID: USTR-2021-0010) during the period August 27, 2021, through September 27, 2021.
Commenters should indicate whether they support or oppose extending the exclusion beyond September 30, 2021, along with their rationale for doing so.
If seeking to comment on more than one exclusion, a separate comment for each must be submitted.