A group of House Republicans and Democrats are lobbying President Joe Biden’s United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to allow more “made in China” companies to apply for tariff exclusions, Breitbart News has learned.
Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) are requesting that Tai expand the administration’s “targeted tariff exclusion process” to include more manufacturers who make their products in China.
The Section 301 tariffs on billions of dollars worth of China-made products were first imposed by former President Trump after a decades-long free trade consensus in Washington, D.C., that has eliminated 3.7 million American jobs from the U.S. economy from 2001 to 2018.
Though the Biden administration is set to preserve most of the China tariffs, Tai is currently reviewing more than 500 China-made products that could become excluded from the tariffs.
In a letter obtained by Breitbart News, the lawmakers urge Tai to expand the tariff exclusion process to include “all [China-made] products covered under” the tariffs. The lawmakers also attack the use of tariffs altogether on businesses that have offshored production to China and claim that the tariffs have spurred price increases despite no such evidence.
“We urge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to immediately expand its exclusion process in order to support American workers, businesses, and our economic recovery,” LaHood, Walorski, Kind, and DelBene write:
October’s announcement to restart an exclusion process for a limited number of expired tariff exclusions is an important first step to help workers in industries that have limited, if any, alternative sourcing options as they continue to struggle through the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. That process, however, is too narrow, opening only 1 percent of the original exclusion applications for reconsideration. Expanding this process to more products is especially important given the significant challenges with transparency and procedure in the original exclusion process, as the Government Accountability Office found in its July 2021 report to Congress. [Emphasis added]
The lapse – and continued absence – of critical exclusions have deepened the challenges for businesses and their workers, hindering efforts to relocate supply chains in sectors ranging from new-energy vehicles to semiconductors by raising the costs of critical inputs, components, and machinery. These increased costs are undermining the competitiveness of American manufacturing workers whose inputs are now more expensive compared to those made by foreign competitors. Sadly, the Section 301 tariffs have broadly impacted U.S. businesses in the manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, retail, energy, technology, and services industries. These impacts have been strongest for small-and medium-sized enterprises that are less able to absorb the increased cost of tariffs. Section 301 tariffs have also harmed American families and consumers by raising prices on a wide range of consumer products. [Emphasis added]
Given this, we strongly urge the USTR to expand its exclusion process as quickly as possible to give American workers, businesses, and families badly needed economic relief. To ensure that this relief is meaningful, we urge USTR to broaden the scope of the exclusion process to include all products covered under Section 301 tariffs and to ensure meaningful retroactivity to make businesses whole and keep them competitive. [Emphasis added]
Moreover, exclusions that you grant should be retroactive significantly earlier than the current date of October 12th. There is little reason to charge additional tariffs on covered products during the months when no exclusion process existed. This process should also be open on an ongoing basis to ensure that American manufacturers can have their needs heard and addressed by their federal government. Ultimately, we believe that all U.S. businesses should have the opportunity to make their case before the new Administration for why they deserve tariff relief, and that is what we think is fair for our constituents. [Emphasis added]
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents a number of retailers and brands that make their products in China, is touting the letter.
The AAFA’s political action committee (PAC) has donated thousands of dollars to Kind over the years. This year, alone, the PAC donated $2,500 to Kind. From 2010 to 2020, the PAC donated $9,000 to Kind. In 2018, the PAC donated $1,000 to Walorski.
Spokespeople for LaHood and Walorski told Breitbart News in a statement that “both have a strong record of standing up to the Chinese Communist Party, including their most recent vote to hold this heinous regime accountable for Uyghur human rights violations and impose sanctions on items produced by slave labor in Xinjiang.”
“In this letter, the members propose commonsense reforms to Section 301 that would safeguard American-made products while eliminating supply chain bottlenecks and supporting key American industries,” they continued in a statement:
President Trump, with Republican support, worked to ensure that any American company that could be impacted by the 301 tariffs would be able to apply to USTR for an exclusion so that U.S. companies would not be punished or penalized – only the CCP. Biden-era changes to Section 301, which allow a mere one percent of the exclusions as compared to the Trump Administration, have worsened existing shortages and contributed to skyrocketing inflation. Reps. LaHood and Walorski are proposing an expansion of the existing Biden exclusion process to match the robust relief offered by President Trump’s 301 exclusions – which delivered results for manufacturing, agriculture, technology, and other vital industries for American workers and our economy.
Since 2001, the states that LaHood, Walorski, Kind and DelBene represent have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs as a result of U.S. free trade with China. In Walorski’s Indiana, for instance, about 85,800 Americans have been displaced from their jobs, while in LaHood’s Illinois, the number exceeds 162,000.
In Kind’s Wisconsin, about 88,900 Americans have been displaced from their jobs while Washington, which DelBene represents, has seen 67,400 Americans displaced.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.