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Here’s How USTR Says US Companies Can Avoid Paying Tariffs on Chinese Imports

The United States and China are locked in a tariff battle that seems to be just beginning, and companies with tariff lines on the target list are already shelling out for the new duties.

For some companies—if they’re able to get through what’s sure to be a long, long line of other similar appeals—they’ll be able to see their goods exempted from the tariffs, provided they meet certain criteria.

On Friday, the U.S. added 25 percent tariffs to 818 Chinese goods, including some machinery used on the fiber and textile making process, as well as molds for footwear machinery. China hit back with a matching $34 billion in tariffs, but on 545 products, including uncombed cotton and cotton linters from the U.S.

The USTR said the U.S.-targeted tariff lines “contain products identified as benefiting from China’s industrial policies, including the ‘Made in China 2025’ program,” a policy it says “bolsters China’s stated intention of seizing economic leadership in advanced technology.”

As a follow to the official enforcement of the United States’ $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports and China’s in-kind response, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released details Friday on the product exclusion process.

“USTR is providing an opportunity for the public to request exclusion of a particular product from the additional duties to address situations that warrant excluding a particular product within a subheading, but not the tariff subheading as a whole.”

From now until Oct. 9, 2018, companies can file an exclusion request with the USTR for goods that are only available from China, goods subject to new duties that would cause “severe harm” to the requester or other U.S. interests, or goods that are not strategically important to the “Made in China 2025” program.

No further details on what constitutes “severe harm” were made available in the Federal Register notice outlining the criteria and process for requesting exclusion.

If the exclusion is granted, it will apply retroactively to July 6 when the duties were imposed, but will only be effective for one year.

“Because exclusions will be made on a product basis, a particular exclusion will apply to all imports of the product, regardless of whether the importer filed a request. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will apply the tariff exclusions based on the product,” USTR said.