On Friday, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced a nine-month extension for 352 product exclusions from China Section 301 tariffs. The exclusions, initially reinstated on Mar. 28, were set to expire at the end of the year.
The USTR said the extension “will help align further consideration of these exclusions with the ongoing comprehensive four-year review.” It also asked interested parties to submit comments on the tariff headings containing the exclusions by Jan. 17, 2023 as a part of the review process.
The announcement comes as welcome news to much of the apparel and footwear sector, which has been calling for an extension the product exclusions as the end-of-year deadline draws nearer. Items included on the list include men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, home textile products, fabrics and yarns.
“Tariff costs have been a primary concern for the apparel and footwear industry for years now,” Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) said Friday. “While this is an important step to rein in inflation, there is still much that the administration can do to help the American economy.”
Despite accounting for just 6 percent of all product imports, the fashion industry pays 25 percent of all tariffs collected by the U.S. government, amounting to “a huge hidden tax on American families for the clothes and shoes they must buy,” Lamar said. President Biden has now collected more Section 301 tariffs under his tenure than former President Trump, who masterminded the first list of tariffs in 2018.
Lamar said that further action is needed to support the industry in ally markets. “Priorities as Congress concludes the year include retroactively reinstating the popular and bipartisan Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB),” he said, referencing twin measures that haven’t been renewed since they lapsed two years ago.
The AAFA is also lobbying on behalf of long-term renewals of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Haiti HELP/HOPE programs. AGOA, which grants duty-free status to 36 African nations, is set to expire in 2025. Lawmakers met with African leaders in Washington last week to discuss the future of both programs, “and we are hoping the long history of support each has enjoyed will create an opportunity for bipartisan action early in the next Congress,” Lamar said.