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USTR Extends PPE Tariff Exclusions, as AAFA Calls for More

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) lauded the announcement last week by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) extending tariff exclusions for imports of personal protective equipment (PPE).

AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar said the action the Biden Administration has taken to extend the Section 301 exclusions on cloth face coverings and other PPE for six months will help the efforts to focus on COVID-19 relief and recovery.

“It is essential that these efforts not be undermined by production cost and retail price increases due to tariffs,” Lamar said.

USTR announced late Friday that in light of the continuing efforts to combat COVID-19, it has determined that it is “inappropriate to allow the exclusions for certain products to lapse.” USTR extended 99 product exclusions in a Dec. 29 notice through Sept. 30.

“At the same time, we must focus on the recovery of the U.S. economy,” Lamar said. “As such, we again call for the expeditious review of the underlying China 301 tariffs, as well as those exclusions that were allowed to expire in 2020.”

In addition, Lamar said that many PPE categories are still caught in “this tariff trap” as are other products that support U.S. jobs in the apparel industry and in the U.S. economy.

“We look forward to working with the new team at USTR on these pressing issues,” Lamar said.

USTR is set to be headed by Katherine Tai, whose confirmation has moved out of committee and is pending final Senate approval.

AAFA said it has long brought attention to the detrimental impacts of tariffs on American consumers, workers and business, especially as it relates to the production of PPE during the battle against COVID-19. Most recently, AAFA called for the Biden administration to extend the temporary exclusion provided for imports of PPE from China 301 tariffs, which was reflected in this announcement.