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USTR Unveils Process to Exclude Select Products from China Tariffs

Interested parties may apply until June 25, 2020, regardless of whether the product is already subject to a separate exclusion request that is pending or has previously been denied.

As part of the U.S. government's ongoing effort to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, on March 27, 2020, the United States Trade Representative ("USTR") opened a new exclusion process designed to remove additional duties as high as 25% from Chinese-origin products that are necessary in the COVID-19 response. The exclusion process is intended to supplement existing tariff exclusion processes, the public comment periods for which have all already closed.

The public docket will be open until at least June 25, 2020, and may be extended as deemed appropriate by the USTR. Interested parties are directed to specify how the product in question "relates to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak," such as whether it is used to treat or limit the outbreak or is used to produce needed medical-care products. The USTR has also indicated it will review submitted comments on a rolling basis, which has likely contributed in part to the hundreds of comments the USTR has already received just over the course of a few days.

The new exclusion process limits the public comment period on submitted exclusions to just three days, a significant decrease from the 14-day public comment period used in previous exclusion processes. As a result, interested parties should carefully monitor the status of the docket to preserve the ability to fully participate in the exclusion process. They should also consider participating in the process early on, as all other exclusion portals have now closed and as certain granted exclusions become set to expire.

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