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Here’s What’s Included in the Latest Tariff Exclusion List

The federal government appears to be throwing a bone to businesses languishing under the weight of economic uncertainty and coronavirus complications.

On Thursday, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced a timeline extension for tariff exclusions on certain China-made products.

The products in question, which include foods, chemical compounds and other consumer products in addition to apparel items, are now eligible for exclusions from the Section 301, List 3 tariffs until Dec. 31. Originally, the exclusions had been set to expire on Aug. 7.

Among the items being granted extended exclusion from the punitive tariffs are polyester messenger bags of a certain size, backpacks with built-in hydration systems and those made from man-made materials, synthetic and polyester duffel bags, “stuff sacks,” leather smartphone covers, 85 percent or higher-grade silk fabrics, cashmere and camel hair yarns (carded, not combed), certain dupioni silk fabrics, and a number of woven, dyed, synthetic and polyester materials.

Apparel, accessories and footwear sales have taken major hits throughout the duration of the coronavirus crisis, with brands across the boards seeing massive losses throughout the spring season.

The additional punitive tariffs on goods produced in China were first implemented in September 2018 by the Trump administration as a part of the Section 301 investigation into the country’s dubious policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.

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The move, which imposed additional duties on goods Chinese products with an annual trade value of approximately $200 billion, struck fear into the hearts of American brands and Chinese manufacturers with some immediacy. But two years into the trade war, a global pandemic and its impacts on business across the globe have made the additional duty burden on U.S. companies too much to bear.

The USTR began issuing exclusions in June of 2019, and has since granted 15 sets of exclusions under the Section 301 action, based on applications from “interested persons,” like brands, businesses and trade associations submitted through its online portal. Parties making requests for product exclusions must identify specific items and provide data to support the rationale for their request.

The agency has said that it grants exclusions based on three key factors: whether a product is available only from China, whether additional duties would cause significant harm to the requester, and whether the product in question is related to China’s industrial production initiatives.

In early June, the agency released a Federal Register notice excluding 61 products items from Section 301, List 4A duties, including certain fabric covers or shells, like comforters, pillowcases, backrests and cushions, shells for life jackets made from man-made fibers, down and feathers used for stuffing, and household sewing machines.